Record rain sets off high-water warnings on Vancouver Island, but Victoria stays relatively dry

Record rain sets off high-water warnings on Vancouver Island, but Victoria stays relatively dry

Forecasters are warning of swollen creeks and rivers as heavy rain sweeps over southern British Columbia, but Greater Victoria continued its trend of remaining much drier than average.

High streamflow advisories have been posted for all of Vancouver Island, the south coast and the southern Interior, warning that the possible rapid rise in rivers poses a risk to public safety.

Environment Canada says a Pacific frontal system washed over Vancouver Island and the south coast over the weekend, bringing up to 90 millimetres to Haida Gwaii and more than 80 millimetres on Saturna Island.

The River Forecast Centre says streams and rivers on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and Howe Sound are expected to rise into Monday with possible localized flooding.

Environment Canada is warning residents in southeastern B.C., from the Boundary region through the West and East Kootenay regions, to expect as much as 50 millimetres of rain before it eases on Tuesday.

The river forecaster says the smaller, low-elevation creeks and rivers in the region are the most at risk of flash flooding because of the remaining snowpack.

“These rain-on-snow events have a high amount of uncertainty based on rainfall totals, ripeness of the snowpack to melt and the fluctuation of the freezing level,” the centre says in its advisory.

The heavy rain that fell on Vancouver Island over the weekend caused flooding in some low-lying areas but there was no major damage reported as of late Sunday night.

RELATED: Vancouver Island rainfall records washed away by ‘really needed’ weekend storm

Several daily records for April 9 rainfall were toppled on the Island. Port Alberni received 44 millimetres of rain, dousing the old record of 11.2 mm, Comox saw 24.4 mm (previous record: 24.4 mm), Qualicum Beach had 11.5 mm (4.1 mm) and North Cowichan got 12.7 mm (4.8 mm).

Port Alberni had more rain in three days, from April 6-8, than in all of March (69.2 mm) and the city’s four-day total was 114 mm.

“We’ve got to fill up the aquifers and all of our reserves so that we’ve got plenty of water for this summer,” said Jim Adcock, a farmer in Fanny Bay. “If it’s as dry as it was last year, we’ll need that water.”

Rain shadow keeps Victoria relatively dry

While the badly needed rains filled reservoirs and streams that have been depleted throughout a very dry winter season, Victoria continued its trend of remaining relatively dry.

The weather station at the University of Victoria saw just 0.8 mm and there was only 1 mm at Victoria Gonzales from April 6-9. Compared to Vancouver Harbour, which saw 63.6 mm over the same period, the Capital Region’s precipitation seems like a drop in the bucket, said CHEK News weathercaster Tess van Straaten.

“The Olympic rain shadow was definitely in overdrive,” said van Straaten. “And until that 1 mm yesterday, we’d had no rain at Gonzales all weekend.”

Just 34.2 millimetres of rain fell at Victoria International Airport for the month of March, 44 per cent of the normal precipitation for this time of year.

Environment Canada is forecasting more rain this week though, with a 40 per cent chance of showers Monday, and more rain expected Tuesday, Thursday and through the weekend.

-With files from CHEK’s Skye Ryan

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