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People encouraged to prepare for stormy weather, heavy rain

By Richmond Sentinel

Published 2:55 PST, Fri December 1, 2023

People living on Vancouver Island, the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley can expect stormy weather until Thursday, Dec. 7.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) forecasts a series of storms culminating in a narrow band of heavy precipitation for the west coast of British Columbia, including the Lower Mainland and Fraser Valley. Otherwise known as an atmospheric river, narrow bands of heavy precipitation such as this are common in British Columbia and many occur every year, most frequently in the fall and winter.

West Vancouver Island, Howe Sound, the Lower Mainland, Fraser Valley and the Coast Mountains are forecast to receive heavy to very heavy rain on Monday into Tuesday during what is currently forecast as the peak of the storm. People are encouraged to check the ECCC weather page for updates on forecasts and rainfall expectations. With four days left before the peak of the event, there is uncertainty in the storm track and therefore total amounts of snow followed by rain (on snow) also remain uncertain.  

The River Forecast Centre closely monitors forecasts and will issue advisories and warnings should they be required. 

While this upcoming wet and stormy weather is seasonally typical, the Province is prepared to take actions to keep people and communities safe in the event of flooding, such as:

  • Emergency Management and Climate Readiness (EMCR) is working closely with communities on preparedness activities, including regular regional co-ordination calls with First Nations and communities.
  • The River Forecast Centre is monitoring weather patterns and river conditions and remains vigilant for a potential rapid transition toward extreme wet weather that could contribute to an increased flood hazard.
  • EMCR is prepared to deploy four million sandbags to local governments to protect homes and public infrastructure.
  • EMCR is prepared to deploy or pre-position sandbag machines to areas of flood concern or potential flood concern throughout the province.
  • EMCR is prepared to deploy 10 kilometres of gabions, which are wall-like structures filled with sand, and 32 kilometres of tiger dams, which are stackable orange tubes filled with water.
  • EMCR has expanded its use of emergency alerts to issue broadcast intrusive alerts on behalf of communities to warn people in British Columbia about imminent threats due to flooding.

People are asked to take precautions to ensure personal safety, including developing a household plan, putting together emergency kits, connecting with neighbours and learning about the local government emergency response plan for their area.

As well, people can take the following steps:

Protect your home:

People are advised to prepare for possible flooding of low-lying areas by moving equipment and other assets from these areas to higher ground, where possible. Clear perimeter drains, eavestroughs and gutters. Sandbags also help and can be made available through your local government.

Create grab-and-go bags:

Assemble an individual grab-and-go bag for each member of the household with the essentials they will need if asked to evacuate.

Recognize the danger signs:

If you live near a waterway, a change in water colour or rapid change in water level, especially a drop, could indicate a problem upstream. Call your local fire, police or public works department immediately if you suspect something is out of the ordinary.

If you face a threatening flood situation, park vehicles away from streams and waterways, move electrical appliances to upper floors and make sure to anchor fuel supplies. Listen to local officials if you are asked to evacuate.

In the event of flooding, here are some tips about what to avoid:

Steer clear of river shorelines:

Keep away from river edges and shorelines. During periods of high flow, river banks may be unstable and more prone to sudden collapse. Stay away and keep young children and pets away from the banks of fast-flowing streams and flooded areas or bridges.

Do not drive through flood water:

Never attempt to drive or walk in flood water. Approximately 15 centimetres (six inches) of fast-moving water can knock over an adult, and 61 cm (two feet) of rushing water can carry away most vehicles, including SUVs and pickup trucks.

Landslide risk:

Heavy rain may contribute to landslides and dangerous debris in creeks and waterways. Be safe and do not go to watch the rushing water. If you notice trees beginning to lean or bend near your home, or cracks developing in the hillside, consult an engineer or contact local authorities.

There are more details in PreparedBC’s Flood Preparedness Guide. The guide contains useful information that will help British Columbians better protect themselves and their homes and understand what to do if their home or community is at risk of flooding.

Driving safety:

Crashes can be prevented when motorists are prepared. Some helpful tips for travelling in wet weather and winter driving conditions:

  • Research the current road conditions before you leave – @DriveBC (  on X (formerly Twitter) or: Nearly 900 highway webcam views are available at more than 450 locations throughout the province.
  • Check the weather forecast and consider postponing travel. If travel is necessary, wait until conditions improve.
  • Wear comfortable clothing that does not restrict movement while driving. Bring warm clothing (e.g., winter boots, coat, gloves and hat) in case you need to get out of the vehicle.
  • Have an emergency plan. Ensure your vehicle is equipped with a full tank of fuel, a windshield scraper and snow brush, food and water, a first-aid kit and other emergency supplies.
  • Do not panic if you get stuck or stranded. Stay with your vehicle for safety and warmth.
  • If you have a cellphone, call for roadside assistance. For emergencies, call 911.

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