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Atmospheric river packing several powerful rainstorms heading for southern B.C.

The Canadian Press
Atmospheric river packing several powerful rainstorms heading for southern B.C.

VANCOUVER – The B.C. government is urging south coast residents to protect their homes from potential floods as heavy rain is on the way and will combine with melting snow to cause damage.

An advisory from the Ministry of Environment and Climate Change says the rain or snow at higher elevations is expected to hit the south, central and northern coasts; Haida Gwaii; and Northern Vancouver Island.

Emergency Management BC says sandbags will be made available by local governments, while residents need to clear out gutters and make sure their perimeter and stormwater drains are clear.

Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings starting Tuesday morning through to Wednesday night with those areas expecting 50 to 150 millimetres of rain.

Rising freezing levels and melting snow will increase river flows and prompt localized flooding, the weather office says.

It says rainfall amounts for western Vancouver Island could reach up to 175 mm.

The River Forecast Centre has issued advisories covering Vancouver Island, the south coast and Fraser Valley, saying the downpours and rising temperatures have the potential to melt low-elevation snowpack and cause “minor to significant flooding.”

Rivers are expected to begin increasing on Tuesday and likely peak Wednesday or Thursday, it says.

“Areas that experienced flooding last year may have added vulnerabilities due to erosion and higher baseflow conditions,” the centre says.

A series of atmospheric rivers swept over the province in November, causing widespread destruction with flooding and landslides in the southern Interior, Lower Mainland and Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada reports 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 last year.

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

Power was restored late Sunday in two Vancouver Island communities that lost electricity early last week as snow, ice and windstorms pounded parts of the province.

BC Hydro says the lights were back on in the Vancouver Island villages of Tahsis and Zeballos after more than 700 customers lost heat and electricity last Tuesday.

Hydro says crews faced challenging conditions, including ongoing storms and shoulder-deep snow, as they worked in the remote location.

©2022 The Canadian Press

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