Old Island Highway nearly washes out and more heavy rains in forecast

Old Island Highway nearly washes out and more heavy rains in forecast

WATCH: Highways crews were rebuilding a section of the Highway 19A today after it nearly washed out Sunday. It happened near Cook Creek and the mainly dry weather Monday allowed for work to be completed before the next storm, forecast to bring more heavy rains, arrives. The next one has officials closely watching rainfall amounts as flooding is possible. Kendall Hanson reports.

UPDATE:  Drive BC reports that Highway 19A is now open in both directions at Cook Creek as of 7 p.m.

The highways maintenance operator for central Vancouver Island said heavy rains, amounting to close to 150 millimetres, were responsible for nearly washing out a section of the Old Island Highway.

Drivers were forced to detour today after a section of Highway 19A was closed around 3 p.m. Sunday.

Crews were trying to take advantage of the dry weather to make repairs.

[The rains] overpowered the culvert, started to scour the shoulder out and undermine the edge of the pavement. Itt typically could have turned into a complet washout, but we’ve managed to stop it before that,” said Stewart Westwood, the regional manager for Emcon Services.

And more rain could be on the way with another powerful weather system expected to hit the Island this week.

The weather has raised BC Hydro’s concern about potential flooding in the Comox and Alberni Valleys.

“What we’re really looking at is the storms forecast to hit Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday,” said Stephen Watson with BC Hyrdo. “It’s tropical based [with] similar precipitation scenarios but the freezing level is going to up considerably so we’re going to get snow melt added on to that precipitation.”

The utility is spilling as much water as it can from the Comox Reservoir in advance.

And then there’s fear about how river systems below the dams will react to all that water in combination with high tides.

Wednesday afternoon and Thursday morning are of particular concern.

“So we’ve reached out to the city of Courtenay and the Comox Valley Regional District on being aware that there’s a risk here for isolated flooding,” said Watson.

The utility is warning people to be aware of the fast rivers and to keep a safe distance away.

“It could be a little bit tenuous and we’re watching it closely and we’ll see how it unfolds,” said Watson

The Comox Valley Regional District issued a boil water advisory Sunday because of higher turbidity levels related to the rain. All users of the Comox Valley water system are instructed to boil their drinking water for one minute at a rolling boil.

Kendall HansonKendall Hanson

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