British Columbians feel extreme weather tough to predict and prepare for
VANCOUVER: A new BC Hydro report finds one year after a series of atmospheric river storms caused unprecedented floods and damage, British Columbians feel storms are almost impossible to predict and prepare for.
The report titled "Worst-case storm-nario: British Columbians feel extreme weather becoming increasingly tough to predict and prepare for" [PDF, 496KB] finds almost half of British Columbians feel more fatigued heading into this storm season – and nearly two-thirds think it is impossible to be fully prepared for a storm. For over one-third, feelings of perpetual under-preparedness stem directly from the unpredictability of the weather over the past 12 months.1
In fall 2021, several atmospheric river storms swept through B.C. – the worst of which hit November 14-15, causing unprecedented flooding and damage. BC Hydro infrastructure damage was extensive - especially in flood and mudslide areas - with a total of 258,000 BC Hydro customers without power during the storms. This year, B.C. is facing potentially critical storm conditions again due to drought weakened vegetation and has already experienced smaller scale atmospheric river storms this fall, with more on the way.
Because of the unpredictable extreme events that have taken place over the past year, about half said they do not trust the weather forecast and do not think there is a way to accurately predict storms. This is likely because a quarter were affected in some way by an atmospheric river storm last year - of those, 28 per cent experienced a power outage, 22 per cent experienced multiple power outages, 12 per cent had damage from flooding, and 50 per cent had trouble getting goods or services due to the storms.
This forecast distrust seems to have led to preparedness fatigue as well. For example, 64 per cent said they have not taken any steps this year to prepare for storm-related power outages. This means only about a third of British Columbians have taken steps to be prepared since last storm season. Of this group, those over the age of 55 are about a third more likely to be prepared than 18 - 34-year-olds and women are about a third more likely to be prepared than men.
Preparation for storm-related outages is vital this year, as BC Hydro is predicting potential for more weather-related power outages than a typical year because of an unprecedented number of drought-weakened or dead trees – particularly on the South Coast. An increase in extreme weather due to climate change is something BC Hydro has been preparing for. To improve power outage response times, BC Hydro is using its smart meter network along with advanced technology and processes, including:
- Enhanced prediction logic: using an algorithm and the smart meter network, BC Hydro’s system can confirm an outage and mark its location on a map, which a dispatcher can then analyze and dispatch a crew to investigate and make necessary repairs.
- BC Hydro also uses the smart meters to confirm that its restoration efforts have been 100 per cent completed by sending signal to the meter to see if the location has power. This allows BC Hydro to confirm all restoration is complete before crews leave the area.
- Remote services apps: tools that allow field crews to communicate restoration progress more efficiently and accurately, including mobile apps and satellite communication devices for use when out of cell range.
- Improved meteorology models: this information provides greater insight into where and when a storm might hit so BC Hydro can ensure crews are ready to respond quickly.
- Increased vegetation management year-round: Identifying and removing trees and vegetation that could pose a problem during storm season.
A little preparation can go a long way, even if it may seem like weather events are unpredictable. BC Hydro encourages customers to be prepared for storm-related power outages. This includes having a well-stocked emergency kit with supplies for each member of the household for at least 72 hours.
An emergency kit should include basic supplies, such as:
- A flashlight and extra batteries
- First aid kit
- Required medications
- Non-perishable food and bottled water
For information on power outages and estimated restoration times please visit bchydro.com/outages.
For more information on power outage preparation visit bchydro.com/staysafe.
BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468
1Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 800 (gen pop) British Columbians, from Oct 13-17, 2022. Margin of Error of 3.46%.