- The third major storm in more than a week slowed down in southern British Columbia on Wednesday evening, but high temperatures and the risk of snowmelt means that communities always carefully monitor river levels.
- Evacuation orders remain in effect for properties located near waterways in the Fraser Valley, the Thompson-Nicola Regional District and the Sea to Sky region. To learn more about evacuation alerts and orders, see here.
- Route 99 was closed between Lillooet and Pemberton after a mudslide. Many of the province’s highways are still subject to travel advisories. For a full list of closures, see here.
- West Coast Express trains were canceled between Metro Vancouver and the flood-ravaged Fraser Valley due to a mudslide on the tracks. Service is expected to resume Thursday afternoon.
- Flood warnings are in place for the Coldwater, Nicola, Tulameen, Similkameen, Spius, Coquihalla, Chilliwack and Sumas rivers, as well as for the lower Fraser tributaries and the Sumas prairie.
- A flood watch has been issued for the south, central and north coasts, as well as for all of Vancouver Island. For all flood advisories, see here.
British Columbia is expected to start rebuilding after extensive flooding and mudslides following the release of the last of three major storms on Wednesday night, but flood warnings remain in place for much of the province.
Communities affected by flooding, including many in the Fraser Valley and Nicola Valley east of Vancouver, remain under flood warning due to high river levels and high temperatures causing snowmelt.
Flood monitoring means that river levels rise and can overtake their banks and inundate adjacent areas. A flood warning means that river levels have exceeded or will exceed their banks, and neighboring areas will be flooded accordingly.
Many highways also remain closed across the province, including Route 99 between Lillooet and Pemberton due to a mudslide, as well as Route 3 east of Princeton.
A mudslide on Canadian Pacific Railway tracks also led to West Coast Express commuter trains between Metro Vancouver and the Fraser Valley be canceled, with new closures Thursday morning due to a mudslide on the slopes.
Service is expected to resume Thursday afternoon, however, trains may be delayed on arrival at Port Haney and Mission City stations due to slower speed requirements in the landslide area.
In Abbotsford, some fear that melting snow from Mount Baker in Washington state could cause more floodwater to flow into the Fraser Valley across the US border.
Storm systems that brought rain to much of southwestern British Columbia during the last two weeks of November also brought high temperatures, according to meteorologists.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said modeling showed water levels would decline towards the end of the week, but said the situation could change within minutes.
“I want to stress that even though it may not be actively raining, there is a lot of rainwater and snowmelt still coming down from the mountains,” he said on Wednesday.
“The situation is still variable and we continue to monitor this situation very closely. “
WATCH | Higher temperatures due to storms pose a risk of snowmelt:
New mudslides lead to the closure of highways
After numerous temporary freeway reopens, Wednesday’s closures meant metro Vancouver was again effectively isolated from the rest of the province.
A new mudslide on Highway 99 in the Sea to Sky area has resulted in a closure between Pemberton and Lillooet. The previous section saw a mudslide that killed four people and one who disappeared during the storm in mid-November.
Highway 3 from Hope to Princeton is only open for essential travel. However, on Wednesday flooding east of Princeton forced the closure between Taylor Way and Old Hedley Road. There is no detour for commercial vehicles, but light vehicles can bypass the closure using Old Hedley Road.
The section of Highway 1 between Abbotsford and Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley also remains closed, meaning transportation to and from the interior is again limited for those in Vancouver.
Extensive reconstruction on devastated highways, including the Coquihalla (Highway 5), is expected to take a long time, further limiting the supply chain across the province.
WATCH | Supply chain booms across British Columbia:
Under-staffed flood forecasting center: report
The River Forecast Center, which issues flood warnings for the entire province, was found to be understaffed in a report by the Canadian Center for Policy Alternatives (CCPA) on Wednesday.
Ben Parfitt, resource policy analyst at CCPA, said the center, in its current form, is ill-equipped to anticipate and respond to flooding.
Parfitt said the understaffing could result in an inability to effectively communicate warnings in a timely manner – something he said has happened in British Columbia over the past two weeks.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth defended the institute, saying the center “does an amazing job and we have amazing people doing an amazing job.”
However, he acknowledged that the government would reconsider its response to the flood emergency in the future.