Drought weakened trees, fall storms could mean more power outages warns B.C. Hydro

Residents across British Columbia are being advised to prepare a well-stocked emergency kit for what B.C. Hydro warns could be a stormy fall and winter made worse by the effects of a severe summer drought.

The latest report from the Crown utility says record-breaking heat between June and August in many parts of the province killed trees or weakened their root systems.

It says unstable trees, combined with predicted stormier La Nina weather conditions, create the potential for more power outages if they topple across power lines.

B.C. Hydro says conditions heading into the fall mirror those in 2015 and 2018, when the utility was hit by its two most damaging storms.

It says a storm following the 2015 summer drought caused over 710,000 outages and lasted multiple days.

B.C. Hydro has some of the highest densities of trees per kilometre of power line in North America.

It says it has stepped up its program to manage vegetation near those lines in an effort to reduce the risk of outages over the coming months.

But customers should have flashlights, batteries, a first aid kit, water and non-perishable food on hand in case the lights go out, it says.

It notes the duration of blackouts has been declining.

“Power service is restored for most customers within the first few hours of an outage,” says a media release from the utility company.

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