British Columbia remains under a state of emergency Tuesday as the third of three atmospheric rivers arrives over the province.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth said at a media briefing that coastal and southwest regions of the province continue to face rainfall while still trying to recover from previous flooding.
One of the biggest concerns Tuesday is the North Coast.
Farnworth said the storm moving in could be the “most intense yet” to hit the region.
The province has already mobilized crews and assets to the area, Farnworth said, especially in the Bella Coola region where between 80 and 120 millimetres of rain could fall between Tuesday and into Wednesday.
“The cumulative effect of this succession of storms will be and continues to be a major challenge,” Farnworth said.
Read more: ‘We’re holding our own’: Abbotsford B.C. mayor optimistic as new drone footage shows flooding
Highway 20 will now be under a travel advisory due to the expected storm, Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said.
He said maintenance crews and avalanche teams have been stationed along the route to respond quickly if necessary, and people should only use the roads for essential travel.
Farnworth said it’s best to avoid non-essential travel in all parts of the province until the weather stabilizes. He said everyone should pay close attention to Environment Canada and road closures and follow the direction of local governments and First Nations should a local evacuation alert or order be issued.
Meanwhile, as a precaution, Highway 99 between Pemberton and Lillooet will close at 4 p.m. Tuesday due to weather, Fleming said.
Highway 3 remains open for essential travel only.
Environment Canada says this storm is very strong.
Armel Castellan, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said Tuesday that 60 millimetres of rain has already been measured in Hope and areas such as west Vancouver Island could get up to 150 millimetres by Wednesday.
“All four quadrants of B.C. under weather warnings,” he said.
Another concern is freezing levels climbing to 3,000 metres meaning snowmelt will be part of this event and will add to the rainfall totals, Castellan added.
Following this system, B.C. will have a bit of a break in the weather before a smaller system moves in Friday and into Saturday.
Castellan said some more rain will fall late in the weekend and into next week but it will not be as intense as an atmospheric river.
Residents and officials in parts of B.C. already hit hard by the flooding are bracing themselves on Tuesday, hoping the situation doesn’t get any worse.
Abbotsford Mayor Henry Braun said he is “cautiously optimistic” about the situation in his city.
Braun told a news conference on Monday that as of 4 a.m. sandbagging was complete for the Huntingdon Village area along the U.S. border. 90 properties there are on evacuation order after the Nooksack River in Washington state topped its banks.
“At this point, we are holding our own,” Braun said. “I am confident we have done all that we can do to keep our community safe.”
On Monday, the government extended its state of emergency, due to the ongoing flooding, until Dec. 14.
Farnworth said the extension is to ensure emergency services have the resources they need as another storm brews for Tuesday into Wednesday.
Gas rationing was extended to Dec. 14. Non-essential drivers will continue to be capped at 30 litres at each pump visit. The applies to residents of the Lower Mainland to Hope, Sea to Sky, Sunshine Coast, Gulf Islands and Vancouver Island.
Meanwhile, the City of Merritt, B.C. will resume temporary access to some homes.
Water levels in the Coldwater River have “stabilized,” the city said in a news update Monday, after two days of torrential downpour from the second of three atmospheric rivers forecast by Environment Canada.
The City of Maple Ridge is also warning residents along the north and south Alouette to be ready to self evacuate and have an emergency plan in place.
Properties along the south Alouette could be affected if the river reaches an uncontrolled release stage.
Northside, water levels have recently receded but the city says the next batch of rain will likely cause more floods and road closures.
The city is also offering sand and sandbags for affected residents.
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