Winter winds wreak havoc

New Year's storm downs Garry oak and beaches boats

Passersby stop to look at a massive Garry oak brought down by strong winds New Year’s Day at the intersection of Central and Monterey roads

A cold nor-easter took its toll on both boats and trees in Oak Bay last week.

A 152-year-old Garry oak came down with a crash at the corner of Central and Monterey roads around 10 p.m. New Year’s Day, said resident Alec Provan, who braved the cold to capture images of Oak Bay crews working to clear the street.

The fallen tree blocked the intersection until workers cleared a path through the debris, Provan said.

The oak was the largest of the trees brought down by the windstorm; other minor issues around the municipality included several branches down on Florence Street.

Typically wind come from the southwest, but this time was from the northeast, and brought sustained winds. Paired with the frigid temperatures and damp soil, it was too much for some trees here in Oak Bay and around the region, said Chris Hyde-Lay, Oak Bay Parks Services manager.

“What was strange was it was north-east wind. Most of the trees are accustomed to the southwest winds.”

There really is little residents can do to predict which trees will be susceptible to storm damage.

“It’s not uncommon that you end up with (issues) like this,” Hyde-Lay said. The Garry oak “had a bit of a lean but it had had a bit of lean for some time.”

Several sailboats were also spotted blown to the shoreline in the gusts, but were soon recovered by owners.

While winds were expected to ease Wednesday, Environment Canada predicts the cold, wet weather will stick around through the weekend with snow or showers.

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