Season’s first big blow cuts power, closes road

  • Oct. 11, 2004 7:00 a.m.

By Mariah McCooey–Last Thursday’s storm-the first to rock the islands this year – had gusts that clocked over 110 kilometres per hour (60 knots). And although the consensus is “we’ve seen worse,” the storm disrupted travelers and stranded ferry passengers, knocked out the power to the south half of the islands, and brought down dozens of trees across the road.
According to the Beaufort wind scale, the wind speed was in the ‘violent storm’ category, and only slightly below that of a hurricane. (Florida, by comparison, was just devastated by 135 km/h winds).
“Fortunately the tide wasn’t high,” said Tlell weather-watcher John Davies, “There wasn’t much erosion damage.” But there were sure a lot of trees down, he said. “It was a wild day-a good storm. But there have definitely been many others like it.”
The Kwuna’s last sailing was at 1:00 pm on Thursday, which left many people marooned on both sides of the inlet until 7:00 Friday morning, including kids from the Graham Island side who attend the Sandspit school.
Urs Thomas, owner of the Golden Spruce Motel in Port Clements, said that the motel was full on Thursday night with people on their way south from Masset who were unable to proceed any further due to fallen trees on the road. “It was nasty last night,” he said, “my sign even got blown over.”
Tlell resident Margaret Davies was one of several people who ended up sleeping at a friend’s house. She was attending an open house at Sk’aadgaa Naay school in Skidegate, and decided to leave when the storm started to intensify. “I was counting the downed trees,” she said, “but I lost count after about a dozen.” The wind was really strong, especially around Miller Creek and the Jungle Beach area. “There was a lot of debris on the road,” she said, but O’Brien’s had already bucked up most of the fallen trees. Eventually they came to an impasse where a tree had fallen onto the power lines, and it was going to be several hours before it was cleared up, so she slept at a friend’s house.
The ferry to Rupert was badly disrupted by the storm, spoiling the long-weekend travel plans of some islanders and visitors, but was getting back to schedule as we went to press. For current information on the ferry, see www.bcferries.com or call 1 888 223 3779