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News release

Report: BC Hydro's most damaging storms of all time are recent history

VANCOUVER: A new report1 based on BC Hydro data finds severe weather events have recently led to some of the most damaging fall and winter storms in BC Hydro's history, with most occurring in the past five years.

The report titled, "Recent history: Most of BC Hydro's worst storms happened in the past five years," [PDF, 485 KB] finds three in five British Columbians say the worst fall/winter storm they have ever experienced in B.C. has been in recent years. And they are not wrong. From heat waves and flooding to severe snow and windstorms, BC Hydro has seen an increase in significant weather events, underlining the importance of preparation.

"Climate change has led to an increase in extreme weather events in British Columbia, and this is something BC Hydro has been preparing extensively for," said Susie Rieder, BC Hydro spokesperson. "Despite increasing storms, BC Hydro has been able to maintain and even exceed its goal to have 95 per cent of customers restored within 24 hours in most cases. With more drought-damaged trees this year, we are expecting this storm season could be more damaging and we are encouraging our customers to prepare."

BC Hydro has already experienced its first significant storms of the season. The first in late October when heavy wind and rains left over 105,000 BC Hydro customers without power on the South Coast and Vancouver Island. The second and most recent windstorm was even more significant – making the list of most damaging storms and leaving over 235,000 customers without power on the South Coast and Vancouver Island in early November.

Most recent top storms have been made worse by unusually dry conditions that weakened trees and vegetation, making them more susceptible to falling onto electrical infrastructure, causing outages. BC Hydro measures the severity of a storm based on damage to its system and number of customer outages. BC Hydro's top fall and winter storms of all time include:

  1. 2018 windstorm: Over 750,000 customers on the South Coast lost power during the December 20 storm. The storm was so destructive because winds came from three different directions, topping 100 kilometres per hour in some areas. Also, more than 400 millimetres of rain fell in some areas in the week before the storm hit, which destabilized healthy trees.
  2. 2022 windstorm: After a year of record drought, BC Hydro experienced a fall windstorm in early November that left about 420,000 customers in total without power in the Lower Mainland, Sunshine Coast, the Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.
  3. 2023 fall windstorm: Similar to 2022, drought and a record-breaking wildfire season left trees and vegetation more susceptible to winds and heavy rain, leaving 235,000 customers without power in early November.
  4. 2021 atmospheric river storm and flooding: Over 217,000 customers were affected in mid November.

Other significant storms outside the seasonal and five-year timeframe include the 2015 August windstorm where over 710,000 customers on the South Coast and Southern Interior were affected, and the 2017 ice storm affecting over 217,000 customers in the Lower Mainland.

Eighty-four per cent of British Columbians recall at least one of BC Hydro's recent worst storm events, and 55 per cent experienced a power outage during one of these events. This is likely why over half (54 per cent) think fall and winter storms are becoming more frequent and 58 per cent feel they are becoming more severe.

Despite being affected by more storms, many are still unprepared – almost a quarter said they have not taken any steps to prepare for weather-related power outages. BC Hydro is encouraging customers to prepare for storm-related power outages by having a well-stocked emergency kit with enough goods such as bottled water, batteries and non-perishable food items to last at least 72 hours.

For more information on how to prepare and stay safe this storm season, visit


BC Hydro Media Relations
p. 604 928 6468

1Online survey conducted by Majid Khoury of 800 British Columbians from Feb 23 to 27, 2023 margin of error 3.46%.