B.C.’s River Forecast Centre has issued a flood watch for some parts of the South Coast, as flooding in several communities caused road closures, power outages and prompted a local state of emergency on Vancouver Island.
As of Saturday morning, the North Shore and Metro Vancouver remained under the alert that was posted Friday. Areas of concern include the Coquitlam River, Alouette River, Kanaka Creek and MacKay Creek. The western and southern parts of Vancouver Island are also on alert for flooding.
An atmospheric river pounded the South Coast Friday, and overnight, with the heaviest rainfall measured on the west coast of Vancouver Island and along the North Shore Mountains.
Some rivers flooded, and on Vancouver Island a local state of emergency was declared in Cowichan Valley.
A statement from the Cowichan Valley Regional District says widespread flooding forced more than two dozen residents to evacuate early Saturday as key transportation corridors were cut off by rising flood water.
The district says in a statement that about 28 evacuated residents from North Cowichan and the Halalt First Nation were staying at the local community centre.
Several roads were closed because of washouts on Saturday, according to Drive B.C., including Highway 1 on Vancouver Island. The southbound lane was closed because of flooding at Exit 6 in Saanich.
Provincewide telecommunications issues were being reported, with Bell customers and B.C. Transit Police among those affected.
Hundreds of skiers and snowboarders were trapped overnight at Sasquatch Mountain Resort after heavy rain and a landslide washed out a one-kilometre section of Hemlock Valley Road in Agassiz.
The slide had left the road impassable to vehicles in both directions. The mountain suspended all skiing and said it was serving food to guests that had to stay on the mountain.
The Ministry of Transportation said in a statement Saturday that residents of the Hemlock Valley community are advised to stay at home.
“People who are currently at the Sasquatch Mountain Resort are advised to stay at the resort until crews can clear the debris from the road for safe travel,” the statement said.
The route is the only available exit for residents of the Hemlock Valley community and for those at the Sasquatch Mountain Resort.
A statement from the resort said it had no choice but to suspend activities until the road is reopened.
Shelby Lim, the director of marketing at the resort, says more people than usual are at the resort because a race was scheduled for the weekend. She says as many as 500 people are in the village and at the resort, including about 100 staff.
The Ministry of Transportation also said that it will require five to six days to create single-lane alternating traffic. A helicopter company is offering a shuttle service off the mountain to the nearby Chilliwack airport for $150 per person.
DriveBC reports that an update on the Hemlock Valley situation will be next provided at 9 a.m. Sunday.
At Harrison Hot Springs, the ministry reports that Rockwell Drive between Dogwood Lane and Rockwell Lane is closed in both directions due to a washout. There is no detour and some residents are being evacuated as of Saturday evening.
In Coquitlam, thousands of BC Hydro customers were without power after the rainstorm brought down some power lines Friday night.
B.C. Hydro crews were also dealing with the Alouette Reservoir in Maple Ridge, which reached capacity Saturday, for the first time since 1995.
B.C. Hydro spokeswoman Tanya Fish said that despite crews’ efforts to discharge water from the reservoir, the extremely heavy rain caused water from the reservoir to be released over the spillway into the Alouette River.
However, she said the total amount of water being discharged to Alouette River is expected to remain the same, as crews reduce discharge from a controlled gate.
“As the heavy rain from last night has subsided, local inflows into the river downstream of Alouette Dam are receding and under the current weather forecast, we do not anticipate water levels on the river to go above peak levels observed overnight,” said Fish, on Saturday afternoon.
“We are asking the public to use caution around the Alouette River and be aware that water levels may change throughout the day.”
B.C. Hydro reports that crews are working in the eastern Fraser Valley to clear debris in order to restore power.
Golden Ears Park Road was also closed because of water damage from the storm, according to a tweet from Alouette Parks.
Highway 1 was also closed because of rock slides from Lytton to Yale, and at Spences Bridge, 19 kilometres south of Cache Creek.
In Maple Ridge, 112 Avenue east of 240 Street was closed due to a slide caused by the intense rain. The city posted on Twitter that the street would be closed until crews were able to remove the debris and stabilize the slope.
Meantime, a rainfall warning that was in effect has been lifted and a much drier day was expected on Saturday. Environment and Climate Change Canada forecasted a mainly cloudy, but windy day, with a chance of showers clearing up near noon, and some sunny breaks.
The agency posted rainfall totals on Saturday, showing that many parts of Metro Vancouver exceeded 100 mm since Thursday, including Abbotsford which saw 119 mm and Pitt Meadows, which record 138 mm. Squamish was drenched in 166 mm, while Vancouver had nearly 80 mm.
The River Forecast Centre said that while some snowmelt was expected during this weather event, snowpack at higher elevations should absorb the water.
Another cold front is moving across the region this weekend, and freezing levels are expected to rise, according to Matt MacDonald, a meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.
On Saturday, the temperature was forecast to drop to 4 C in the afternoon with an overnight low of zero. Then there is a chance of snow at higher elevations on Sunday.
— With files from The Canadian Press