Travellers in British Columbia are being warned of major highway closures Saturday, as the province prepares for the next in a series of storms expected to soak the South Coast.
The B.C. Ministry of Transportation said it is “proactively closing” Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet, Highway 3 between Hope and Princeton and Highway 1 in the Fraser Canyon at 2 p.m. on Saturday afternoon.
All three stretches of highway were the sites of significant landslides following the Nov. 14 atmospheric river that triggered disasters around southwestern B.C.
The province only recently reopened the routes to essential traffic.
“The highway infrastructure in these areas is extremely vulnerable following recent storms and more heavy rain in the forecast poses an additional risk,” the ministry said in a media release.
The closures will be re-evaluated Sunday morning based on conditions, the ministry said, and motorists are urged to keep a close eye on DriveBC for updates.
The province will also close Highway 1 between Popkum and Hope on Saturday afternoon, while BC Hydro releases water from the Jones Lake Reservoir which is also being hit by heavy rains.
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“Each release will discharge additional water toward areas of Highway 1 that were previously affected in the Nov. 14 storm,” the ministry said.
“This additional flow – combined with the increased precipitation and already high stream flows – poses a risk of impact to Highway 1 in the Laidlaw area.”
It was not immediately clear how long the stretch of Highway 1 would be closed.
On Friday, Environment Canada issued a “red level alert” about back-to-back atmospheric rivers anticipated to bring heavy rain to southwestern B.C. between Saturday and Sunday, and again between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The storms have prompted concerns about more destruction in areas still dealing with flooding, damaged infrastructure or weakened landscapes.
Between 60 and 80 millimetres of rain could fall in Gibsons and the areas from Vancouver to the Fraser Valley on Saturday, while up to 100 mm could fall closer to the mountains in the Lower Mainland and while Squamish could see up to 120 mm.
The heavy rain could also cause more snow to melt, further exacerbating the threat, according to Environment Canada.
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