2 atmospheric rivers headed for British Columbia

The BC government has urged the public to prepare for stormy weather, as a pair of atmospheric rivers approach different parts of the province.

Environment Canada is forecasting a narrow band of heavy precipitation over the north and central coast on Wednesday, to be followed by another over Vancouver Island and the Lower Mainland on Thursday.

While the term atmospheric river can be alarming due to its association with last year’s historic flooding, officials noted these weather events are common in BC

“Many occur every year, most commonly in the fall and winter,” Emergency Management BC said in a news release.

The influx of heavy rain could cause flooding in some areas, officials noted, but extreme weather of the kind experienced last fall “is rare and not forecast at this time.”

The first atmospheric river is expected to dump 50-100 mm of rain on the central coast between Wednesday and Thursday. The second is forecast to deliver 40-80 mm on western Vancouver Island, the North Shore Mountains, the Sunshine Coast and Howe Sound.

“Comparatively, Hope received 277.5 mm of rain between Nov. 14 and Nov. 15 in 2021,” Emergency Management BC added in its release.

During the storm, the River Forecast Center will be monitoring river levels and issuing advisories or warnings if necessary, the government said. The province is also prepared to deploy as many as four million sandbags to municipalities to protect properties, as required.

If imminent flooding is expected, officials said they will be using the province’s AlertReady system to warn the public. Officials asked that individuals and families take their own safety precautions as well, including “developing a household plan, putting together emergency kits, connecting with neighbors and learning about the local government emergency response plan for their area.”

More information on flood preparedness and building grab-and-go bags is available on the Prepared BC website.

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