(Flooded Cowichan Bay - December 28th - Chris Sadler/Facebook)

River levels on Vancouver Island are rising due to heavy rainfall which has put BC’s southwest on alert for flooding beginning on Thursday, January 12th.

The BC River Forecast Centre has issued a flood warning for southern Vancouver Island, central Vancouver Island and eastern Vancouver Island.

North Shore mountains, Howe Sound (including tributaries around Squamish) and the Sunshine Coast are also under a flood warning, according to the province. 

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A flood watch is the second most severe type of flood warning and it means that river levels are rising and will approach or may exceed bank levels.

“An atmospheric river is impacting coastal BC, with moderate to heavy rain anticipated through Thursday and into Friday,” said the BC River Forecast Centre. 

“Precipitation totals of 15 mm to 60 mm have been observed since yesterday. Environment and Climate Change Canada have rainfall warnings in effect across the region, with rainfall totals up to 100 mm.” 

Rainfall is expected to hit higher altitude regions the hardest. In those areas, where snowfall is expected to affect the 1,800 to 2,300 metre altitude range, snow melt will contribute more to already high river levels. 

The BC River Forecast Centre says that rivers will continue to rise all day on Thursday and river levels will be peaking on Friday and Saturday.

“Weather forecasts currently have the heaviest rainfall anticipated in the North Shore Mountains, Howe Sound area,” said the BC River Forecast Centre.  

In addition to the warnings, there is also a ‘high streamflow advisory’ in effect for the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley, northern Vancouver Island and west Vancouver Island.

This high streamflow advisory means that river levels are rising or expected to rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected as a result. 

In addition to the flood watch, Environment Canada has issued a wind warning for Greater Victoria on Thursday, calling for 70 km/h southeast winds with gusts peaking to 90 km/h near Haro Strait today.

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