Coastal B.C. residents urged to prepare for atmospheric river packing several powerful rainstorms

The B.C. government has issued a warning to residents along the B.C. coast to prepare for a series of heavy rainstorms likely to cause flooding.

In a prepared statement released Monday afternoon, Emergency Management B.C. said “the rainfall expected this week, combined with the melting of recent snow is a concern. Rivers are expected to rise, resulting in possible flooding. Previously flooded areas may be more vulnerable.”

This is of particular concern for residents in the Sumas Prairie in Abbotsford that saw heavy flooding after an unusually intense atmospheric river last November.

Heavy rain is expected for coastal areas including east and west Vancouver Island, Fraser Valley, Howe Sound, inland Vancouver Island, Metro Vancouver and the Sunshine Coast. A wind warning is in effect for the central coast – coastal sections, Haida Gwaii, North Coast – coastal sections, and North Vancouver Island.

The River Forecast Centre has issued a high streamflow advisory for: Howe Sound; Sunshine Coast; Sea-to-Sky; North Shore Mountains; Metro Vancouver; Fraser Valley, including the Chilliwack River and surrounding tributaries; and Vancouver Island (North, East, South, West, and Central).

“The storms are several days away, so the exact location and intensity of heaviest rainfall is still uncertain,” the agency that issues flood warnings and other notices for B.C. waterways said on its website.

Waterways were expected to begin rising on Tuesday and could peak the following day or by Thursday, the centre said.

Environment Canada reported several storms are embedded in the impending system although the post from the River Forecast Centre said conditions are not expected to be as extreme as late last year, when catastrophic flooding occurred in the Fraser Valley and southern Interior.

“The upcoming temperatures are not forecast to be as warm as the atmospheric river events in November,” the centre said.

But it warned of “added vulnerabilities due to erosion and higher baseflow conditions” in areas still recovering from the mid-November floods and urged people to stay clear of fastflowing rivers and potentially unstable riverbanks.

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