B.C. storm: Flood warnings, evacuations remain in place

B.C. storm: Flood warnings, evacuations remain in place
B.C. storm: Flood warnings, evacuations remain in place

Several rivers in British Columbia were under flood warnings on Wednesday as hundreds of homes remained evacuated because of heavy rainfall.

There were 12 evacuation orders involving 350 homes in the Fraser Valley Regional District in its coverage area from Boston Bar to Abbotsford.

Another 1,664 homes were on alert, most of them in Hatzic Valley, where numerous rivers and streams were at or near overflowing.

The Coquihalla River was one of several major waterways where the River Forecast Centre upgraded flood watches to warnings, meaning that river levels have exceeded their banks or will exceed them imminently, causing flooding of adjacent areas.

Flood warnings were also issued for the Chilliwack River, the Lower Fraser tributaries and the Tulameen, Similkameen, Coldwater and Lower Nicola rivers, as well as Spius Creek.

The flood warnings come as southern and coastal British Columbia entered the tail end of severe weather that meteorologists have described as a “parade” of storms with dozens of weather warnings in place across the region.

Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada, said fall’s floods on the heels of summer’s extreme heat is in line with expected trends.

“Unfortunately, this is consistent with what climate change has been projecting for all parts of Canada, including the mid-latitudes here in B.C.,” he told a news conference Wednesday.

“It’s not to say it’s always going to be this extreme all the time, we will see lulls, of course. But the frequency, amplitude of these events, and their longevity individually, will continue to increase with the coming years and decades.”

Weather stations in Nanaimo, Victoria, Abbotsford and at Vancouver’s airport broke seasonal precipitation records for September, October and November combined, he said.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said while there was a lull in the weather Wednesday, residents of southwestern B.C. should prepare for more rain before an expected reprieve Thursday.

Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun suggested conditions had stabilized in one of the hardest-hit areas of the province, although officials would be keeping a close eye and localized evacuation orders remained in place.

“If the weather continues to co-operate over the next few days, we hope to be able to start lifting these and potentially other evacuation orders in areas as they become clear,” he said.

Environment Canada says the rain should ease on Thursday and Friday, but a smaller storm system is expected to affect the south coast of B.C. late on Friday.

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