Shortly after a large atmospheric river visited southern British Columbia, bringing with it loss of life and destruction of infrastructure, the same communities are bracing themselves for what may be another gruelling bout with nature’s violent side.
An atmospheric river brought 80 mm of rain to southwest BC overnight and into Thursday morning, in what was the first of another series of atmospheric rivers anticipated to arrive in the coming days.
An atmospheric river — a term most British Columbian’s have seared into their heads by now — is a flowing column of condensed water vapour in the atmosphere. When atmospheric rivers move inland and sweep over mountains, the vapour rises and cools leading to intense precipitation.
While communities are seeing progress after last week’s storm, with many able to return to their homes, the question of what will unfold in the coming days looms.
Environment Canada says the upcoming storm will be shorter lived and less intense than last weeks but will still bring heavy rain and strong winds. Freezing levels are also expected to rise, which may worsen flooding and impact vulnerable landscapes and infrastructure.
Up to 50 mm is expected to hit the Fraser Valley by Friday morning, an area where flood recovery efforts are still in progress.
Despite fears, Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun says he expects his community to handle the immediately approaching events.
“If all that rain comes, I think we can still handle it,” said Braun Wednesday, suggesting he is more concerned about the events coming later — for which he says there is not yet enough data.
Recent dike repairs have helped stop the flow of water into the some areas, but Braun says they must continue pumping water out, as standing floodwaters continue preventing many evacuees from returning.
Braun will be giving another update from Abbotsford at 2 p.m. PST today.
The BC Dairy Association said more than 500 cows were lost to the floods, as well as thousands of chickens and 20,000 hogs.
There is currently a do not use water advisory in place for Sumas Prairie, replacing the previous boil water advisory.
“We are still in uncharted territory when it comes to these storms,” said BC Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth on Wednesday, adding there have been almost a dozen atmospheric rivers since mid-September.
More to come…
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