15.3 C in Victoria as atmospheric river smashes B.C. heat records, brings heavy rain

15.3 C in Victoria as atmospheric river smashes B.C. heat records, brings heavy rain
File photo of Victoria's Inner Harbour.

Unseasonable warmth brought by an atmospheric river has shattered records — some almost a century old — at more than 30 B.C. locations, with the mercury passing 18 C in the Lower Mainland.

Environment Canada says the daily high temperature at Vancouver’s airport hit 14.3 C on Monday, breaking the previous record of 13.3 C in 1940.

Records were also broken at multiple weather stations in Greater Victoria, where temperatures reached 15.3 C, surpassing the 1931 mark of 13.3 C.

The mercury hit a national high of 18.2 C in Abbotsford and 17.3 C in West Vancouver, both about three degrees beyond previous daily records.

Meanwhile, flood and avalanche risks remain elevated throughout the province’s South Coast, where a series of atmospheric rivers have been bringing heavy rain with the warm temperatures.

B.C.’s River Forecast Centre is maintaining a flood warning for the Squamish River, saying flows have reached between a two- and five-year return period at a gauge near Brackendale, north of the Squamish town centre.

The warning issued Monday afternoon also covers tributaries, including the Cheakamus River, which was “expected to exceed bank-full flow.”

Lower-level flood watches are in effect across the rest of the province’s South Coast, spanning all of Vancouver Island, the Sunshine Coast, the North Shore mountains, and parts of the Fraser Valley, including the Sumas River.

The latest Avalanche Canada forecast shows the danger rating remains “high” throughout the south Chilcotin and Pacific mountain ranges, including alpine areas around Squamish, Whistler, Pemberton and Garibaldi Provincial Park.

The avalanche risk is also ranked as high in northwestern B.C., including mountains surrounding the communities of Prince Rupert, Terrace and Kitimat.

A bulletin from the forecaster said heavy rains have saturated and weakened the upper snowpack, and conditions weren’t expected to improve on Tuesday.

Environment Canada said the latest heavy rains were expected to ease to showers on Tuesday, but wet weather was expected to continue over the next few days.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 30, 2024.

The Canadian PressThe Canadian Press

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