Storm brings another round of heavy rain to soggy southwestern British Columbia

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THE LAST:

  • The third in a series of Pacific storms bringing torrential rains to already inundated areas of southwestern British Columbia has arrived. Up to 100 millimeters of rain are forecast for the Fraser Valley between Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Evacuation orders remain in effect for properties located near waterways in the Fraser Valley and in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. To learn more about evacuation alerts and orders, see here.
  • The District of Hope has declared a local state of emergency, but Mayor Peter Robb is confident the community is ready for more rain.
  • Flood warnings are in place for the Coquihalla River, Sumas River, Tulameen River, Coldwater River, and Lower Nicola River. For all flood warnings and advisories, see here.
  • Flood watch is in effect for the Similkameen River in the southern interior and much of Vancouver Island.
  • Travel advisories are in effect for several highways in British Columbia, and several are closed. For a full list of closures, see here.
  • Fuel rationing has been extended until mid-December.

Heavy and prolonged rains are expected to arrive on the south coast of British Columbia on Tuesday, raising major concerns for communities that have faced the aftermath of previous storms for two weeks.

Environment Canada has issued rain warnings and special weather reports for much of the province and forecast up to 100 millimeters of rain Tuesday through Wednesday for Metro Vancouver, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast and the Valley of the Fraser, including Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope.

CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said 10 to 15 millimeters could fall in just three hours over parts of the south coast on Tuesday, and freezing levels will rise rapidly aloft, meaning more snowmelt .

WATCH | Dikes are reinforced, highways in British Columbia are closed as flood waters increase:

Dikes reinforced, B.C. highways closed as floodwaters rise

Communities in British Columbia are strengthening and raising their dikes with help from the military, and three highways have been closed as a precaution after another torrential rainstorm once again raised floodwaters. 3:41

Up to 200 millimeters of rain are also forecast for the northern and western parts of Vancouver Island and the central coast.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the north coast, which could see up to 40 centimeters of snow on Tuesday.

Flood warnings are in effect for the Tulameen, Coldwater, Similkameen, Coquihalla and Sumas rivers. The Fraser River is under flood watch.

A flood warning means that river levels have exceeded or will exceed their banks, and neighboring areas will be flooded accordingly. Flood monitoring means that river levels rise and can overflow their banks.

Hope, Abbotsford mayors confident

Mayors in two communities in the Fraser Valley that were hit hard by flooding this fall say they are confident their residents can get through the next two days of rain.

“I’m happy to share that at this point we’re holding on,” Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said on Monday afternoon.

“Unless we have a 200 millimeter dump on Tuesday and Wednesday – then that’s a whole different ball game,” he said.

A worker at a recycling plant picks up debris behind a wall of sandbags in Abbotsford, British Columbia, on Sunday. (Darryl Dyck / The Canadian Press)

Although the Nooksack River overflowed on Sunday, the water did not move from Washington State to the eastern part of the Sumas Prairie. Braun said this was good news as it remains the area of ​​the city hardest hit by the flooding.

Hope Mayor Peter Robb said his community has done everything possible to prepare for the next storm.

“I believe we are ready,” he said.

Local states of emergency are in place for both communities, and evacuation alerts and orders have been issued.

Robb encourages residents to pack an emergency bag in case they are asked to leave their home.

Interior cleaning continues

Significant cleanup efforts are underway in the southern interior communities of Merritt and Princeton, as city officials hope the Coldwater, Tulameen and Similkameen rivers do not cross their banks.

Merritt’s 7,000 residents were evacuated two weeks ago when the Coldwater River submerged the town and its sewage system.

City crews, contractors and members of the Canadian Armed Forces have since bolstered flood defenses along the Coldwater River in preparation for Tuesday’s atmospheric river.

WATCH | Greg Lowis, Emergency Public Information Officer at Merritt, on the city’s current situation:

Merritt, BC, fortifies town on arrival of third Pacific storm

Merritt, British Columbia, will continue to work to defend the city against a third heavy rainstorm, said Greg Lowis, the battered city’s emergency public information officer. (City of Merritt / Twitter) 7:11

Princeton Mayor Spencer Coyne said on Tuesday that efforts to strengthen flood defenses in that community had convinced him the city would weather this third storm without further disaster.

“If you don’t get up in the morning and look for something shiny… you can’t go on,” Coyne said.

Hundreds of people in Princeton were forced to flee their properties earlier this month.

Travel restrictions

Many highways remain closed after flooding and landslides two weeks ago, and others are only open for essential travel.

Highway 1 between Hope and Popkum in the Fraser Valley remains closed, but the 80 kilometer stretch from Hope north to Boothroyd has been reopened.

“The situation is very dynamic, and I encourage everyone to follow DriveBC for the latest information, ”Transport Minister Rob Fleming said on Monday.

Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton has also reopened, allowing commercial vehicles and other essential travel.

Authorities are advising residents to stay off the roads if they can during this latest storm.

Drivers on the South Coast and Vancouver Island will remain limited to purchasing 30 liters of fuel at a time until December 14 to preserve the supply of emergency and essential vehicles responding to heavy rains and to severe flooding.

The order was introduced on November 19 and was originally scheduled to expire on December 1.

Essential vehicles will continue to have unlimited access to fuel as needed, using primarily commercial trucking or keyed gas stations.

Avalanche awareness

Avalanche Canada warns that Tuesday’s heavy rains over newly accumulated snow on the south coast mountains are a recipe for dangerous and rapidly changing avalanche conditions.

The nonprofit safety organization rates avalanche risk on a scale of one to five, with five being extreme risk.

As of Tuesday, the alpine hazard rating is raised to four out of five and there is considerable risk at the treeline level with a rating of three.

The Avalanche Canada website indicates that significant “storm patches” could form in the high elevations of the region before being hit by the afternoon rains, and they pose a significant threat to the region. avalanche.

“We will see a rapid evolution of the avalanche conditions during the day”, warns the organization.

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