B.C. Hydro warns of power outages because of drought-weakened trees falling in autumn storms

Increase in La Nina-related weather conditions could bring about "perfect storm"

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      B.C. Hydro is warning customers that this summer's drought and an increase in winds and rains this fall and winter could result in more power outages.

      In a September 17 news release, the Crown corporation said that record-breaking summer temperatures killed and weakened so many trees that a predicted increase in La Nina-related adverse weather conditions could put the province's electrical infrastructure at risk.

      La Nina is a Pacific region oceanic and atmospheric weather phenomenon that can result in lower temeratures, floods, and heavy winds. Very wet weather can cause soil to loosen and trees and other vegetation to weaken and fall.

      A new B.C. Hydro report, titled "The perfect storm: How summer drought could mean severe fall storm fallout", points out that its two most damaging storms, in 2015 and 2018, followed summer droughts (with 2018's drought followed by unseasonably heavy rains).

      The release noted that extended drought damages tree wood, roots, and surrounding soil, and the new report said that the 2015 storm in late August caused more than 710,000 power outages, some of which persisted for three days.

      More than half of Hydro's customers in the Lower Mainland and some parts of Vancouver Island experienced power outages in that 2015 storm.

      According to the report, this years conditions are worse than 2015's. "Compared to 2015, B.C. saw less precipitation in many regions, and tree health over the past years has been on the decline—especially on the South Coast where precipitation is about half of average this summer," the report said.

      But the December 2018 storm resulted in the most power outages ever, the report said, noting that "unusually heavy rainfall contributed to loosening soil and weakened trees falling on power lines during the 2018 windstorm—the worst in B.C. Hydro's history—that left over 750,000 customers without power.

      "Some of the worst hit areas during this storm were Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland," the report continued, "which experienced the brunt of the rainy weather that year"

      For the upcoming storm season, B.C. Hydro is advising customers to prepare an emergency kit stocked with a flashlight and extra batteries, nonperishable food and water, and a first-aid kit.

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