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Flood warnings issued for several B.C. rivers, dozens of weather warnings in effect

B.C. River Forecast Centre says rivers expected to rise throughout day, conditions changing rapidly
Debris is seen at the highway 7 mudslide west of Agassiz, B.C., Saturday, Nov. 20, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward

Flood warnings have been issued for several major rivers in British Columbia’s Fraser Valley and Interior following a series of major storms that are crossing the province.

The B.C. government’s River Forecast Centre has issued warnings around the Tulameen, Similkameen, Coldwater and Lower Nicola rivers, as well as Spius Creek.

It has also upgraded warnings for the Coquihalla, Chilliwack River and Lower Fraser tributaries.

The centre says rivers are expected to rise throughout the day and warns that conditions are changing rapidly.

The flood warnings come as southern and coastal British Columbia entered the tail end of severe weather that meteorologists have described as a “parade” of storms with dozens of weather warnings in place across the region.

A landslide temporarily closed traffic on Highway 7 near Agassiz on Wednesday morning, while the Squamish-Lillooet Regional District issued an evacuation order for properties near the community of Birken due to a landslide hazard at Neff Creek.

Highway 7 is the same artery where motorists were trapped between two mudslides last month. Drive BC said Wednesday the road is open near Maria Sough Bridge and crews were assessing the damage.

The River Forecast Centre says a flood warning means that river levels have exceeded their banks or will exceed them imminently, causing flooding of adjacent areas.

More than two dozen weather warnings remained in effect across southern and coastal British Columbia, complicating cleanup efforts from previous flooding and mudslides.

Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth says the province is doing everything it can to make sure people and communities have the resources and support they need.

He says Emergency Management B.C. along with troops, local government staff and community volunteers were making sure shelter, food, medication, emergency kits, fuel and other resources were available.

Environment Canada says the central coast and the west coast of Vancouver Island could see up to 150 millimetres of rain, with up to 120 mm in the Bella Coola area, while the flood-soaked Fraser Valley east of Abbotsford could get up to 100 mm. Strong winds gusting to 90 km/h were also forecast.

A travel advisory was issued and maintenance crews were dispatched to stretches of Highway 20 between Bella Coola and Williams Lake in response to heavy rainfall in the forecast for the central coast. Travel advisories were also in place for sections of Highways 1, 3 and 7.

The River Forecast Centre has issued flood watches for the central and south coasts and Vancouver Island.

Environment Canada says the rain should ease on Thursday and Friday, but a smaller storm system is expected to affect the south coast late on Friday.

—The Canadian Press

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