Flood watch still in effect for southwest B.C., including all of Vancouver Island

Flood watch still in effect for southwest B.C., including all of Vancouver Island
B.C.'s Shannon Falls, on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, was transformed into a raging waterfall by heavy rain Wednesday, Dec. 1, 2021.

A tourist attraction on the Sea-to-Sky Highway, Shannon Falls, is now a flood risk after it was transformed into a raging waterfall.

The runoff from a series of atmospheric storms is creating unstable conditions in many regions of the province, and the flood risk is substantial, according to David Campbell from the BC River Forecast Centre.

“Through the South Coast is really where we’ve seen quite significant rapid rising rivers particularly around the Howe Sound, and Fraser Valley areas.”

The BC River Forecast Centre issued flood warnings for the Fraser Valley including the Coquihalla River, a flood watch for all of Vancouver Island, the central coast, and north coast, and an advisory for much of southeast B.C.

B.C.’s Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth reminded the public during a briefing at the BC Legislature that the full extent of the damage from the storm remains to be seen.

“We are in the midst of this third intense storm. And I know that in some parts of the Lower Mainland and here in Victoria, there is a bit of a lull. But I want to make it clear to everyone this storm is not over,” he said.

For homeowners like Dave Smyth in Mission, the waiting, watching and worrying continues.

“There is only so much you can do with this kind of a disaster,” he said.

One reminder of how fragile B.C.’s infrastructure is — a minor accident on Highway 7 created gridlock Wednesday. Just hours earlier, crews had cleared the road of a minor mudslide.

B.C.’s Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said the main highways are prioritized for the transport of goods by commercial vehicles.

“Slow down, accept it will take longer to get where you need to go,” he said.

The last storm will hit much of the province overnight, then taper off.

Meanwhile, there’s relief in the hard-hit Fraser Valley that all their hard work protecting the region paid off. Dikes held even as the City of Abbotsford recorded an all-time rain record for November, 521 millimetres, or just under two feet of rain.

But Abbotsford mayor, Henry Braun, warns the water could rise again.

“Even though it may not be actively raining, there is still a lot of rainwater and snow making its way down from the mountains.”

Temperatures are shattering records across the province, according to Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.

“Many records are being broken today for these temperatures and yesterday. Perhaps even record-breaking temperatures for any day in December,” he said.

After this latest atmospheric river runs through the province, the forecast is for windy, cooler temperatures before the rain returns this weekend.

WATCH: Farnworth says atmospheric river set to hit B.C. could be the ‘most intense storm yet’

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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