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West Vancouver brushes itself off after windstorm

Work crews continued to clean up the mess Tuesday morning, a day after a bout of vicious weather toppled trees and brought down power lines across West Vancouver.

Work crews continued to clean up the mess Tuesday morning, a day after a bout of vicious weather toppled trees and brought down power lines across West Vancouver.

The storm, with gusts as high as 100 kilometres per hour, tore into the community at about 9:30 a.m. Monday, driving trees and branches into power lines, knocking out service to almost 2,000 homes and soaking the area with about 30 millimetres of rain.

Exposed neighbourhoods near Howe Sound were hit especially hard, with scores of homes losing power around Whytecliff Park, Gleneagles and Eagle Harbour. Gleneagles Community Centre and the West Vancouver Seniors Activity Centre were also left in the dark.

Traffic backed up along Marine Drive when a gust brought down a large maple and some high-tension power lines in the 2900-block. Firefighters rushed to cordon off the area and redirected drivers, snarling traffic for hours while crews waited for busy arborists and Hydro workers to clear away the hazard.

Another tree in the 5600-block disrupted traffic near Caulfeild at about the same time, and a homeowner on McKechnie Avenue got a nasty surprise when a wind-toppled cedar slammed into the roof of their home. No one was in the house, according to firefighters, and the tree stopped in the attic, meaning the building is likely reparable, they said.

Other minor mishaps cropped up throughout the first, especially blustery, two-hour period, during which emergency crews responded to at least nine storm-related calls.

A big gust would come, and then immediately the calls would come in, said West Vancouver division fire chief Martin Ernst.

We, as a fire dept and emergency services in general, were stretched thin. . . . It was challenging.

The storm, although a little earlier in the year than usual, was not atypical of a fall weather system, said Patrick Cool, a meteorologist for the Weather Network. The bad weather was the product of a very low-pressure system up near Haida Gwaii interacting with a very high-pressure system over Arizona, he said.

When you have a strong area of high pressure next to an area of very low pressure, whoever is in between will get the strong winds, said Cool.

Thats what Mother Nature does; it moves the air around to sort of bring everything to a nice balance.

The factors were similar to those that produced the huge windstorm that levelled much of Stanley Park in 2006, he said, although it was on a much smaller scale.

The system, which pummelled much of B.C.s coast and the Lower Mainland, forced the cancellation of 50 ferry sailings on various routes, but service remained on schedule throughout the day for the more sheltered Horseshoe Bay.

About 30 North Vancouver homes lost power Monday, but overall the storm left the community largely unscathed.

Cool said he expected the weather to remain relatively good for much of the week, before another rainy system moved in on the weekend.

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jweldon@nsnews.com