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Huge storm hit Shuswap 'like a tornado'

September 18, 2016 9:26 P.M.
(Mike Cornell photos)

MAGNA BAY — Residents are cleaning up the aftermath of damage from a huge storm that hit Magna Bay Resort and other Shuiswap Lake communities on the weekend.

The deluge was part of a thunder, lightning and rain storm that arrived in Kamloops shortly before 6:30 p.m. Saturday and swept the Shuswap less than an hour later, uprooting trees, knocking down power lines, blocking roads and damaging homes. The roof and back walls were torn off one log house, with furniture and debris strewn on the ground, but bunk beds, cabinets and wall hangings remained intact inside what was once a bedroom. 

Winds guested to 80 km/h during the storm. 

Mike Cornell, who has a cabin at the lake, received a call about storm damage and headed out. "It did not look that bad but when we rounded the corner by Magna Bay resort it was like all hell broke loose," he told NewsKamloops.

"One house had its roof and one wall torn completely off, exposing everything inside."

He said another cabin further down the beach was "completely crushed" by a large tree.

There were trees down everywhere, he said.

"It was like a bomb went off.

"We could not help but wonder what could have happened if the storm hit in July or August when more people would have been at the lake. It would have been much worse."

Some weekenders who had intended to leave the area to return home Sunday morning were forced to remain because of the downed trees.

B.C. Hydro crews worked throughout the night and into Sunday restoring power all over the Shuswap, with Magna Bay the hardest hit. One camper, Linda Dupray-O-Hearn, was quoted by CFJC Today as comparing the storm to "exactly like a tornado."

Hydro said late Sunday that trees on roads continued to hinder access in the Salmon Arm area. Eagle Bay, where 900 people lost power, and Blind Bay also saw extensive damage. Outages affected 3,300 in Sicamous, Anglemont and Sorento.

The storm was reminiscent of a similar late-summer storm that hit the Thompson-Shuswap almost exactly four years ago. At the time, Magna Bay resident Bryan Johnson said it "sounded like an express train."

The pattern was similar — rain and wind swept through Kamloops first and struck Shuswap Lake an hour and a half later. More than 11,000 customers were without power in that one; about 14,000 were affected by Saturday night's storm.

— Rothenburger

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