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British Columbians feel unprepared for winter storms, says BC Hydro

After 2021's extreme weather and flooding, British Columbians feel storms can't be predicted.
The Sumas Prairie flood after the November 2021 storms.

With winter right around the corner, a new BC Hydro report says British Columbians don't feel ready for storm season.

The survey, conducted Oct. 13 to 17, found people feel unprepared given the past year's unpredictable weather. 

“This year, B.C. is facing potentially critical storm conditions again due to drought-weakened vegetation from unusual weather — a rainy early summer that turned into an extended dry fall,” the report said.

Part of the concern comes after the late 2021 storms that ravaged the province — the series of so-called atmospheric rivers. The worst was in November. It caused unprecedented flooding and damage and left hundreds of thousands without power.

Part of the holdover from the 2021 experiences, according to BC Hydro, is that people don’t trust weather forecasts or predictions.

“This is likely because a quarter were affected in some way by an atmospheric river storm last year — of those, 28 per cent experienced a power outage, 22 per cent experienced multiple power outages, 12 per cent had damage from flooding, and 50 per cent had trouble getting goods or services due to the storms,” the report said.

Meanwhile, forty-two per cent said they are more worried about storm-related damage and power outages affecting their community than they were at this time last year.

That distrust has fatigued some B.C. residents. Sixty-four per cent of those surveyed said they’ve taken no steps this year to prepare for storm-related power outages.

Poll results show those over the age of 55 are a third more likely to be prepared than the 18-34-year-olds, while women are about a third more likely to be prepared than men.

All that said, though, BC Hydro is advising people to be ready for power outages because drought-weakened trees could hit power lines.

“An increase in extreme weather due to climate change is something BC Hydro has been preparing for,” the utility said.

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