Back-to-back storms wreak havoc; vex officials
While many are hailing (forgive the pun) Monday evening’s storm as the ‘storm of the century’, it actually wasn’t, according to Southeast Fire Centre’s weather expert Ron Lakeman. In fact, it wasn’t even ‘a’ storm at all … it was a bunch of them.
“It was a north/south line of storms moving east,” he said. “How that would appear (to someone on the ground) would depend on the maturity of the particular thunder cell.”
Windspeeds recorded near the Nelson airport peaked at roughly 105 km/hour (the maximum recorded in Castlegar has been roughly 115), but Lakeman says this kind of storm is a fairly common occurrence, happening every year or two in the region … just not usually in such densely-populated areas.
The dense population certainly increased the storm’s impact – the Castlegar Fire Department usually averages roughly 50 calls amonth, but fielded 42 calls in just two hours Monday (between 7 and 9 p.m.).
“Oh, our guys were scrambling,” said fire chief Gerry Rempel, adding there were calls for trees that downed power lines and started fires, trees on fire from lightning strikes, medical concerns, etc. He added that fire crews have to wait for Fortis to shut down power to live, arcing lines, and Fortis crews were out in force throughout the night.
“They work very well with us in situations like these,” he said.
City councillor and Trowelex owner Kevin Chernoff said Fortis crews are still at work, and likely will be for quite some time to come, cleaning up this mess.
“I think all but one or two houses had their power restored by about 10 p.m. last night (July 1), but the crews that were in here were just doing quick fixes to get everyone back up and running – they’re going to be here for weeks yet.”
Chernoff said it might not have been the storm of the century, but it certainly was the worst one he’s seen, and he has lived here his entire life.
“I’d say it was by far the worst, with the magnitude of the wind and rain,” he said.
He said it was heart-warming to see residents out working together, some with chainsaws, others with ropes and trucks, etc., to clear roads to allow ambulances and fire trucks through –people who may not even have known each other before the storm struck. (He himself was out assisting in the emergency response, providing generators and other equipment, despite his own power being offline).
Certainly, the whole event caused some anxiety when a second storm hit the following evening, but it proved to be far less intense than its predecessor. Lakeman did say, however, that this storm, too, brought with it numerous lightning strikes.