People living in the Lower Mainland, on Vancouver Island and on the North and Central Coast can expect stormy weather between today and Oct. 31.
This type of seasonal storm is typical for the region and is not unusual for this time of year. Environment Canada forecasts a narrow band of heavy precipitation moving through the North and Central Coast on Wednesday, Oct. 26 and Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland on Thursday, Oct. 27.
Otherwise known as atmospheric rivers, narrow bands of heavy precipitation such as this are common in British Columbia and many occur every year, most commonly in the fall and early winter.
The River Forecast Centre closely monitors forecasts and will issue advisories and warnings should they be required. At the end of a drought, this influx of precipitation can cause flooding. However, extreme weather, such as the mid-November 2021 events, is rare and not forecasted at this time.
The Central Coast can expect 50 to 100 mm of rain between Oct. 26 and Oct. 27. West Vancouver Island, the North Shore Mountains, the Sunshine Coast and Howe Sound can expect between 40 and 80 mm. Comparatively, Hope received 277.5 mm of rain between Nov. 14 and Nov. 15 in 2021.
While this upcoming wet and stormy weather is typical and expected, the Province is prepared to take actions to keep people and communities safe in the event of flooding, such as:
- Emergency Management BC (EMBC) is working closely with communities on preparedness activities, including regular regional co-ordination calls with First Nations and communities.
- The River Forecast Centre is monitoring weather patterns and river conditions and remains vigilant for a potential rapid transition toward extreme wet weather that could contribute to an increased flood hazard.
- EMBC is prepared to deploy four million sandbags to local governments to protect homes and public infrastructure.
- EMBC is prepared to deploy or pre-position sandbag machines to areas of flood concern or potential flood concern throughout the province.
- EMBC is prepared to deploy 10 kilometres of gabions, which are wall-like structures filled with sand, and 32 kilometres of tiger dams, which are stackable orange tubes filled with water.
- This year, EMBC expanded its use of Alert Ready to issue broadcast intrusive alerts on behalf of communities to warn British Columbians of imminent threats due to flooding.
- In 2020, EMBC launched a digital registration system for Emergency Support Services (ESS) to provide timely access to support. Earlier this year, ESS was expanded to include direct payment to evacuees through Interac e-Transfer.
EMBC asks that British Columbians take precautions to ensure personal safety, including developing a household plan, putting together emergency kits, connecting with neighbours and learning about the local government emergency response plan for their area.
As well, British Columbians can take the following steps:
Protect your home:
People are advised to prepare for possible flooding of low-lying areas by moving equipment and other assets from these areas to higher ground, where possible. Clear perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters. Sandbags also help and can be made available through your local government.
Create grab-and-go bags:
Assemble an individual grab-and-go bag for each member of the household with the essentials they will need if asked to evacuate.
Recognize the danger signs:
If you live near a waterway, a change in water colour or rapid change in water level, especially a drop, could indicate a problem upstream. Call your local fire, police or public works department immediately if you suspect something is out of the ordinary.
If you face a threatening flood situation, park vehicles away from streams and waterways, move electrical appliances to upper floors and make sure to anchor fuel supplies. Listen to local officials if you are asked to evacuate. In the event of flooding, here are some tips about what to avoid:
Steer clear of river shorelines:
Keep away from river edges and shorelines. During periods of high flow, river banks may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse. Stay away and keep young children and pets away from the banks of fast-flowing streams and flooded areas or bridges.
Do not drive through flood water:
Never attempt to drive or walk in flood water. Approximately 15 cm (six inches) of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, and 61 cm (two feet) of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.
Heavy rain may contribute to landslides and dangerous debris in creeks and waterways. Be safe and do not go to watch the rushing water. If you notice trees beginning to lean or bend near your home, or cracks developing in the hillside, consult an engineer or contact local authorities.
There are more details in PreparedBC’s Flood Preparedness Guide. The guide contains useful information that will help British Columbians better protect themselves and their homes and understand what to do if their home or community is at risk of flooding.
Crashes can be prevented when motorists are prepared. Some helpful tips for travelling in wet weather and winter driving conditions:
- Check the weather forecast and consider postponing travel. If travel is necessary, wait until conditions improve.
- Nearly 900 highway webcam views are available at more than 450 locations throughout the province. Research the current road conditions before you leave – @DriveBC (twitter.com) on Twitter or: DriveBC.ca
- Wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict movement while driving. Bring warm clothing (e.g., winter boots, coat, gloves and hat) in case you need to get out of the vehicle.
- Have an emergency plan. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with a full tank of fuel, a windshield scraper and snow brush, food and water, a first-aid kit and other emergency supplies.
- Do not panic if you get stuck or stranded. Stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth.
- If you have a cellphone, call for roadside assistance. For emergencies, call 911.
As winter-tire regulations are in effect on designated routes, drivers are encouraged to get the best tires available. These include tires with the mountain/snowflake symbol, which provide the best traction and handling in the most challenging winter weather conditions.
The Flood Preparedness Guide is available online: www.preparedbc.ca/floods
For tips on how to prepare grab-and-go bags visit: www.preparedbc.ca/emergencykit
River Forecast Centre link: http://bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/
Flood preparation for agriculture operations:
Floodwaters can quickly wash out roads and bridges. Be prepared and plan an alternative route. For the latest road conditions, visit: www.drivebc.ca