Wind, snow, prompt warnings, power outages across much of southern B.C.

Waves pound a breakwater in Victoria. Tens of thousands of British Columbians are without electricity this morning as a winter storm knocked down power lines across much of southern B.C., but Kelowna and the South Okanagan escaped the strongest winds.

Thousands of Okanagan residents are without heat or light this morning as a winter storm downed power lines across the B.C. Southern Interior.

Widespread outages are reported across Lake Country, Vernon, and the North Okanagan.

"As the storm is moving its way across the province, it's causing extensive damage to BC Hydro's electrical system due to branches and trees breaking and contacting its equipment. More outages are expected as a result of the wind," the Crown-owned utility says.

"All available resources will continue to work throughout the day to safely restore power," BC Hydro said.

People should stay at least 10 metres back from any downed power lines and call 911 immediately.

In Lake Country, more than 2,100 customers are currently affected by the power outage that stretches between Wood Lake and Duck Lake, and extends to both sides of Highway 97.

More than 2,700 customers at the north end of Vernon are also without power, as are 1,700 customers in the Armstrong area,

After coming ashore, in the Vancouver area, the storm tracked north-west. No outages are reported by BC Hydro in West Kelowna, or the South Okanagan.

FortisBC, the privately-owned utility that serves Kelowna, is not reporting any widespread outages in the city as of 9 a.m. However, about 2,100 customers were without power earlier because of the storm.

Wind gusts of between 50-70 km/h will continue over parts of the B.C. Southern Interior this morning, Environment Canada says in a special weather statement, but conditions are expected to calm this afternoon.

"Loose objects may be tossed by the wind and cause injury or damage. Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions due to high winds," Environment Canada says.

Highs are expected to reach 3 C today, with a mix of sun and cloud through the rest of the week and highs of 2 C, with overnight lows of around minus 4 C.

Normal high for mid-January is minus 3C and lows of minus 8C.