Flood watches and rainfall warnings in effect for much of Vancouver Island

Flood watches and rainfall warnings in effect for much of Vancouver Island
Photo credit: Vlad Chețan/Pexels

Environment Canada is warning residents of heavy rainfall and possible flooding for parts of Vancouver Island Wednesday.

Rainfall warnings have been posted for West Vancouver Island, Inland Vancouver Island and East Vancouver Island, with downpours expected to continue throughout the day.

In East Vancouver Island, a significant 180 to 200 millimetres of rain is expected to fall over the region.

Strong winds are also expected on the Island’s west coast, with gusts reaching up to 50 to 70 km/h Wednesday.

Environment Canada warns that flash flooding is possible, as well as water pooling in roads along low-lying areas.

Flooding risks and potential highway closures

A flood watch was posted for the west coast from Tofino to Sooke. It includes central Vancouver Island, near Port Alberni, and the East Vancouver Island near the Englishman River in Parksville.

The rest of Vancouver Island is under a high streamflow advisory, according to the province’s River Forecast Centre.

The head of the forecast centre, Dave Campbell, says rivers should start receding when the rain ends Thursday.

The centre also warned that localized flooding and road washouts are possible and that people should avoid “potentially unstable riverbanks” at this time.

The province adds that heavy rainfall may cause Highway 4 near Cameron Lake to close for safety concerns.

Slope maintenance and safety nets have been installed along this stretch of Highway 4 after a wildfire ripped through the area in the summer.

With heavy rain in the forecast, the B.C. Ministry of Transportation says there could be an “unplanned closure” along the highway if there are safety risks.

Rainfall warnings

Along Inland Vancouver Island, about 80 to 120 millimetres of rain is expected to fall Wednesday, with potential risks for flash flooding.

Meanwhile, over East Vancouver Island – from Campbell River to Fanny Bay – 60 to 90 milimetres of rain is expected to fall Wednesday before easing early Thursday.

“If visibility is reduced while driving, turn on your lights and maintain a safe following distance,” said Environment Canada in a warning Wednesday.

On Wednesday, the District of Sooke announced that a sandbag station was open at the Ed Macgregor Park parking lot at 6752 West Coast Rd.

The sandbag station is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, and is self-serve. Sand and bags will be provided by the district and Emergency Management BC, but residents are asked to bring their own shovels.

Community members are also asked to only take as much sand as they need to ensure enough is available for everyone.

The sandbag station will be open “through the rainy season,” according to the district.

With files from CHEK’s Dean Stoltz

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