Sunny skies on one year anniversary of atmospheric river that caused catastrophic damage

Sunny skies on one year anniversary of atmospheric river that caused catastrophic damage
It's been one year since an atmospheric river hit B.C. causing extensive damage on Nov. 15, 2021.

The forecasted week of sunny weather is a far cry from this time last year, when there were a series of atmospheric rivers that caused extensive damage throughout the province.

On Nov. 15, 2021 is when the first atmospheric river hit the south coast.

“In 2021, we saw the wet weather begin early in mid-September. And really multiple atmospheric rivers came through delivering more, and more moisture to the areas up, and down right through to the end of November,” said Bobby Sekhon, meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.

The Malahat Highway resembled a raging river with the storm system dumping 150 millimetres of rain in 24 hours creating dangerous driving conditions.

Crews removed the highway medians so the water had somewhere to go.

In Sooke, drivers faced a wall of water that rose so quickly, forcing the closure of Highway 14, cutting off all access in and out.

During the storm, Sooke and Metchosin were hit with a record 210 millimetres of rain.

On the mainland sections of major highways, transformed into raging rivers, where entire communities were lost to the torrential rain.

Almost 50 per cent of the lower half of the province, including much of Vancouver Island, was hit by catastrophic flooding.

The storm produced deadly mudslides, claiming at least three lives.

“I would first like to extend my condolences to the family of the person who lost their life on Highway 99,” said Mike Farnworth, B.C.’s Minister of Public Safety, on Nov. 16, 2021 in Victoria.

Five-thousand people were trapped in their cars near Abbotsford, with police officers risking their own lives to save them.

“We had cars flipped over. A situation where one member had to throw on a life jacket and swim out, wade out to a car that was overturned and bring someone back,” said Chief Mike Serr, Abbotsford Police Department on Nov. 16, 2021.

The highways, roads damaged by the heavy rainfall are now open to traffic, but the cost is estimated in the hundreds of millions of dollars.

READ MORE FROM 2021: ‘Extremely volatile situation’: B.C. assesses storm damage ahead of third atmospheric river on Monday

Mary GriffinMary Griffin

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