A second “atmospheric river” is expected to hit the still flooded province of British Columbia, this time along the north coast.
In light of the devastation caused by last weekend’s storm – which was also an atmospheric river – in southern British Columbia, the provincial government is warning residents to “be prepared for heavy rains and strong winds” .
Environment Canada warned of dangerous winter conditions in an updated warning Sunday morning, including heavy snowfall in interior parts of the region.
The snow is expected to turn to heavy rain as the temperature rises. This means that in addition to precipitation, flooding is possible due to snowmelt.
“Landslides could occur,” meteorologists warned, particularly in the Stewart area where there have already been several heavy snowfalls this year. According to Environment Canada, 20 to 30 centimeters have already fallen since Saturday, and two to four more centimeters were expected Sunday, before strong and warm southerly winds began to melt this snow.
Localized and widespread flooding is possible.
The weather agency expects the snow to continue until Sunday morning, changing to heavy rain that will last until Monday.
The area is subject to a winter storm warning for the conditions described above, but a rain warning is also in effect for the interior north coast region, including Kitimat.
An “atmospheric river” will dump up to 100 millimeters of rain in some places, and flash floods and water accumulations are possible, as well as localized flooding in low areas, according to the warning.
These warnings were not issued along the coast, but a wind warning and a special weather report were issued on Sunday morning, downgrades from previous weather forecasts for the area.
Areas including Haida Gwaii and parts of the northern to central coasts should expect winds of 90 km / h, with even stronger gusts of 110 km / h, the national forecaster warned on Sunday.
“Damage to buildings, such as roof shingles and windows, can occur. Loose objects can be blown by the wind and cause injury or damage,” the wind warning reads.
As with the inland sections, the coastal region should also expect to see the effects of the aerial atmospheric river, although this area is declared, not a warning.
An area including Haida Gwaii and Prince Rupert is expected to expect heavy rain on Sunday and Monday, with rainfall of up to 40 millimeters and 90 millimeters, respectively.
As with locations further east, this area warns that landslides are possible, as is flooding.
This atmospheric river is the second such event to hit British Columbia in about a week. Further south, a similar storm last weekend and through Monday left parts of the southern half of the province and main roads buried in mud underwater.
At least four people have died in one of the multiple landslides that have occurred as a result of the storm.
The incoming weather system is expected to turn south, reaching the coast on Monday, but provincial officials said it would be in a “weakened state” by then. But with some areas still struggling with flooding, authorities are monitoring the forecast and crews and equipment are on hold.
Additionally, the province’s deputy premier said on Saturday that Environment Canada is working on a new weather rating system, which will help the public know what to expect from the recent headline-grabbing phenomenon.
It will be an approach based on an existing system south of the border.
Atmospheric rivers are long, high plumes of moisture-laden air that can bring several hours or days of precipitation of varying intensity to the west coast of North America.
Officials say weather conditions are increasingly common due to climate change.
With files from Ian Holliday of CTV News Vancouver and The Canadian Press
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