Wed. Feb 28th, 2024

British Columbia floods: Pemberton declares state of affairs ;emergency

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Flooding in the Pemberton area prompts local authorities to issue an evacuation order in the Airport Road area.

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The village of Pemberton, British Columbia, declared a state of local emergency and ordered the evacuation of some properties, as avalanche and flooding risks remain high on the coast southern part of the province due to heavy rains, abnormally high temperatures and a new episode of precipitation expected by Wednesday.

A series of storms bringing mild weather, high rain-snow limits and temporary heavy rain will cause an increased risk of flooding, water accumulation and landslides, Environment Canada announces .

A special weather statement has been issued for all of Vancouver Island, except the far southeast, coastal Sunshine, the West, Northern Metro Vancouver, and Howe Sound.

The next episode of rain is expected by Wednesday morning, specifies the bulletin.

The warm air mass produces temperatures of 5 to 10°C above seasonal temperatures, indicates Environment Canada.

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Water has completely flooded this garden, near Squamish.

Thus, more than thirty temperature records were broken in the province on Monday. In particular, it was 18.2°C in Abbotsford, the old record for which dates back to 1960. It was 15.6°C at the same time of year.

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As a result of this mild weather, freezing levels will be between 2000 and 2500 m until the middle of the week, Environment Canada predicts. Freezing levels at high altitudes combined with heavy rains will cause snowmelt to add to the already heavy precipitation.

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Tuesday morning, river levels were very high, as here, around Brackendale, north of Squamish.

D&#x27 ;according to Environment Canada, residents in areas affected by the special bulletin should expect accumulation of water on roads and landslides. There are also risks of falling tree branches, power outages and travel delays.

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Further precipitation is forecast, which should cause further swelling watercourses.

On Tuesday morning, the River Regime Monitoring Center issued a flood advisory (the highest of three stages) for the Squamish River and its tributaries, including the Cheakamus, as well as the Lillooet River.

The flow of the Squamish River, measured near Brackendale and published Tuesday morning, was 2000 m3/s . Such a flow is observed on average every 5 to 10 years.

The River Regime Monitoring Center has issued a flood watch (level 2 of 3) for the remainder of the province's south coast, including the coastal Sunshine, Howe Sound, the Sea-to-Sky region, the North Shore mountains and parts of the Fraser Valley, including the Sumas River.

All of Vancouver Island is also placed under this alert level.

Lower level flow advisories are in effect for the central and north coasts.

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Sandbags can be placed in ingenious ways to prevent damage from flooding.

Very many regions of British Columbia are also affected by avalanche risks.

Avalanche Canada indicates that the Mild weather and heavy rains have saturated and weakened the upper layer of the snowpack.

Danger is high in alpine areas of the southern Chilcotin and Pacific Ranges, particularly around Squamish, Whistler and Pemberton.

The map shows that the risk is also high in the northwest of the province, for example in the mountains surrounding the communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat, or even in Glacier National Park.

The mildness and the rain make the snowpack very wet. When we have a slightly cooler night, a crust of ice forms, explains André-Jean Maheu, avalanche forecaster and member of the North Shore search and rescue team. p>

The forecaster mentions the risks associated with natural avalanches. The snow, which is heavy at the moment, can cause very destructive avalanches. They may be larger and go further than usual. It is therefore necessary to provide a safety margin, he adds, advising to stay away from avalanche terrain.

With information by Dominique Levesque

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