Nov 23, 2021 - Energy & Environment

British Columbia bracing for "parade of storms" amid flood recovery

 Satellite images taken last Friday of flooding in Sumas Prairie to the east of Abbotsford.
Satellite images taken last Friday of flooding in Sumas Prairie to the east of Abbotsford in British Columbia, Canada, near the border with the U.S. Photo: Maxar Technologies

Canadian officials warn a "parade of storms" is set to pummel British Columbia with more heavy rains this week.

Why it matters: The province is still reeling from last week's "atmospheric river event" that hit the Pacific Northwest, triggering record rainfall, extensive flooding and mudslides. The deadly storm displaced thousands of people, CBC News notes.

A woman loads personal items from a flooded home in Abbotsford, British Columbia, Canada, on Sunday.
A woman loads personal items from a flooded home in Abbotsford on Sunday. Photo: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

Threat level: "We are bracing for a record-breaking fall in terms of overall precipitation numbers for communities along the central and south coast," said Armel Castellan, the warning preparedness meteorologist for government department Environment and Climate Change Canada at a briefing Monday.

  • Castellan didn't expect so much rainfall to hit B.C. earlier in the week, but said there'd be enough precipitation to "likely exacerbate the vulnerabilities on the ground currently."
  • He warned another atmospheric river event would hit the region on Thursday, "tapping into some subtropical moisture and heat." And another atmospheric river system was forecast to hit strike B.C. on Saturday.
"When you have a parade of storms or an incredible fall, as we have since the middle of September with upwards of 200% of normal rain, the soils are very saturated and a lot of the moisture immediately creates a runoff issue."
ā€” Castellan

The big picture: The premier of B.C. declared a state of emergency in response to the storm system last week. But the province is still being impacted by its aftermath.

  • Officials said Monday that "several electrical transformers" were still down, CTV News reports.
  • One official implored volunteers helping with retrieval efforts by boat to slow down because their speeds were creating waves that were "affecting the local farms," according to CTV News.

What else to expect: "It's going to bring freezing levels up to perhaps 2,500 meters [more than 8,200 feet], so fairly high," Castellan said. "There would be some snowmelt with this moisture."

  • Castellan expects heavy rains across B.C., with up to 4 inches forecast to fall in the North Shore Mountains around Howe Sound in the coming days.

Context: Climate change has raised the odds of extreme weather, such as precipitation events.

The bottom line, per Castellon: "We are dealing with very active weather for the foreseeable future."

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