Severe storm hits B.C.’s already soaked South Coast

November 30, 2021
Severe storm hits B.C.'s already soaked South Coast
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THE LATEST:

  • The third in a series of Pacific storms bringing torrential rain to already-flooded areas of southwest B.C. has arrived. Up to 100 millimetres of rain is predicted for the Fraser Valley between Tuesday and Wednesday.
  • Evacuation orders remain in effect for properties near waterways in the Fraser Valley and in the Thompson-Nicola Regional District. For more on evacuation alerts and orders, see here.
  • The District of Hope has declared a state of local emergency, but mayor Peter Robb is confident the community is prepared 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.
  • A 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 B.C., and many are closed. For a full list of closures, see here.
  • Fuel rationing has been extended until mid-December.

Prolonged, heavy rain is expected to arrive on B.C.’s south coast Tuesday — causing major concerns for communities that have been dealing with the consequences of previous storms for two weeks.

Environment Canada issued rainfall warnings and special weather statements for much of the province, and has predicted up to 100 millimetres of rain Tuesday into Wednesday for Metro Vancouver, Whistler, the Sunshine Coast and the Fraser Valley, including Abbotsford, Chilliwack and Hope. 

CBC Meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe says 10 to 15 millimetres could fall within a mere three hours on parts of the South Coast on Tuesday, and freezing levels will rise rapidly in altitude — which means more snowmelt.

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

Communities in B.C. are reinforcing and raising their dikes with the help of the military, and three highways were closed as a precaution after another torrential rainstorm raised floodwaters again. 3:41

Up to 200 millimetres of rain is also in the forecast for North Vancouver Island, West Vancouver Island and the Central Coast.

A winter storm warning is in effect for the North Coast, which could see up to 40 centimetres of snow on Tuesday.

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

A flood warning means river levels have exceeded or will exceed their banks, and nearby areas will flood as a result. A flood watch means river levels are rising and may spill their banks.

 Hope, Abbotsford mayors confident

The mayors of two Fraser Valley communities that have been hit hard by flooding this fall say they are confident their residents can make it through these next two days of rain. 

“I am pleased to share that at this point, we are holding our own,” Mayor Henry Braun of Abbotsford said Monday afternoon. 

“Unless we get a 200 millimetre dump Tuesday and Wednesday, that’s a whole different ball game then,” he said.

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

Although the Nooksack River overflowed Sunday, water did not cross over from Washington state in the eastern part of the Sumas Prairie lake bottom. Braun called that good news since it remains the area of the city hardest hit by flooding.

Hope’s Mayor Peter Robb said his community has done all it can to prepare for the next storm.

“I believe we’re ready,” he said.

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

Robb is encouraging residents to have an emergency bag prepared in case they are told to leave their homes.

Travel restrictions

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

Highway 1 between Popkum and Hope remains closed, but the stretch from Hope to Boothroyd has been reopened.

“The situation is very dynamic, and I would encourage everyone to follow Drive BC for the latest information,” Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Monday.

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

Officials 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 litres of fuel at a time until Dec. 14 in order to preserve supplies for emergency and essential vehicles responding to the heavy rains and severe flooding.

The order was introduced on Nov. 19 and originally set to expire Dec. 1.

Essential vehicles will continue to have unrestricted access to fuel as required, using predominantly commercial trucking or cardlock gas stations.


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