Hundreds of lightning strikes, a torrential downpour and gale force winds made up an intense storm that rolled through Kamloops on Tuesday evening.
Kamloops Fire Rescue was kept bust during the storm, which was at its most intense between about 6:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m. The fire department responded to three elevator entrapments, two single-vehicle rollovers on area highways and one fire sparked by lightning during that time.
“We were running pretty hard from call to call,” KFR platoon Capt. Darryl Cooper said. “We were pretty busy.”
KFR responded to the fire, located in the grasslands right behind homes in the 2000-block of Saddleback Drive in Batchelor Heights, at about 6:25 p.m. Cooper said the fire grew to about 20 feet by 50 feet in size before being extinguished by the rain. A resident helped by attacking the flames with a shovel.
No one was injured, Cooper said.
The fire department also responded to Thompson Rivers University, Hilltop Apartments and Landmark Centre for three people trapped in elevators during the storm. Cooper said it appeared as though there were power outages in the buildings.
At 6:50 p.m.emergency personnel responded to Highway 5 on the Tk’emlups reserve after a vehicle went off the road and into a ditch about four kilometres north of the Husky gas station. Cooper said a lone occupant of the vehicle was checked out by paramedics. At about 7:15 p.m. there was a response to a single-vehicle rollover on the Coquihalla Highway near Inks Lake, where a lone occupant had to extracted from the vehicle.
Cooper said the calls slowed between 7:15 p.m. and 8 p.m.
He said people should refrain from driving during such strong storm cells.
More than 18,000 customers in the Kamloops area lost power between about 6:15 p.m. and 7:15 p.m., according to BC Hydro.
There were 750 lightning strikes within a 50-kilometre radius of Kamloops during the storm, Environment Canada meteorologist Bobby Sekhon told KTW. About 300 strikes occurred within 16 kilometres of the city and 67 strikes were recorded within four kilometres of Kamloops.
Sekhon noted that some of the strikes were cloud-to-cloud lightning activity.
Parts of Kamloops, including the North Shore, downtown and Sahali, experienced power outages during the storm — the result of substations on Bunker Road and Douglas Street being affected by lightning, BC Hydro spokesperson Jen Walker-Larsen said.
She said the length of time customers were without power varied, noting crews worked through the night to restore power, checking to ensure there was no damage before re-energizing the system.
Wind gusts reached 70 km/h and about six millimetres of rain fell on Kamloops, Sekhon told KTW.
He said the storm system moved through southern B.C. from the coast on Tuesday, continuing east through the Kootenays and into Alberta on Wednesday morning.
Environment Canada didn’t issue a warning for the storm, Sekhon said, as the expected conditions didn’t meet the federal body’s threshold for a notice. A thunderstorm, however, was in Environment Canada’s forecast for Tuesday. Environment Canada requires a forecast of 90 km/hr winds and, for Kamloops, 15 millimetres of rain falling within an hour before it issues a storm warning.
That amount of rain in an hour can cause flooding in Kamloops, while 90 km/hr winds is a general threshold for all of B.C., he said.
Environment Canada was forecasting wind gusts under 90 km/hr and for between 10 and 15 millimetres of rain to fall within an hour during the storm.
Sekhon estimated southern B.C. received 10,000 lightning strikes on Tuesday night.
BC Wildfire Service reported the storm cell ignited a number of fires around the Kamloops Fire Centre, but most are spot sized and none are threatening communities.
The thunderstorm that rolled through Kamloops brought the largest number of single-day lightning strikes to the Kamloops area this year, but it pales in comparison to a 1,300 strike storm that hit the Kamloops area in August 2018.
The remainder of the week is forecast to be sunny, with highs in the low 30s. Showers and possible thunderstorms are expected this weekend.