People living throughout southern and coastal British Columbia are being warned to batten down the hatches as a winter storm rolls through on Monday bringing heavy rain and localized flooding.
In Burnaby’s Still Creek area, a regular flooding hotspot, several vehicles could be seen half submerged in the parking lot of Home Depot, with water nearly overtopping their front hoods.
TransLink also warned of delays on the Millennium Line between Lougheed Town Centre and Lafarge Lake-Douglas due to flooding.
Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings for Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland, the Fraser Canyon, Howe Sound and Whistler, and Manning through the Skagit Valley.
Wind warnings are in place for Haida Gwaii, north Vancouver Island and the Central and North Coast, with winds of up to 90 km/h, gusting to 120 km/h over exposed coastal locations, forecast for Monday afternoon.
Winter storm warnings are in effect for the North and West Columbia, Yoho and Kootenay Parks and Kinbasket, with up to 15 cm of snow forecast, accompanied by ice pellets and the risk of freezing rain.
Parts of Vancouver Island are forecast to see up to 150 mm of rain, with up to 100 mm possible in northern Metro Vancouver, up to 70 mm in the Fraser Valley and up to 60 mm in the Fraser Canyon south of Lytton.
The Ministry of Transportation said it was closing Highway 1 through the Fraser Canyon at 7 p.m. as a precaution due to anticipated heavy rain and the risk of debris flows in the area from the summer’s Kookipi Creek wildfire.
People in the Kootenays are also being warned of up to 100 mm of rain possible on Highway 3 between the Paulson Summit and Kootenay Pass through Thursday morning.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre has issued flood watches for the South Coast, Lower Mainland and Lower Fraser Valley.
High streamflow advisories are also in place for Vancouver Island, the Kootenays, the Tulameen and Coldwater rivers and tributaries of the Nicola River downstream from Merritt.
The Ministry of Emergency Management said it had distributed sandbags to 27 municipalities and First Nations, with another four million sandbags on standby if needed.
It said it is in regular communication with local governments, with sandbag machines and other flood mitigation equipment ready.
The province may also send emergency alerts to people’s mobile phones in the case of imminent flood threats, it said.
The public is being warned to stay clear of creeks and riverbanks, to prepare for the possibility of flooding by moving important items out of low-lying areas, and to have grab-and-go bags assembled as an emergency precaution.
People are also being asked to clear perimeter drains and gutters.