As a trio of new storms approach, BC Hydro is warning Vancouver Island residents to prepare for outages and avoid river systems with hydroelectric facilities because water is being released from dams to make room for strong rains.
The storms, which are not expected to be as severe as those that caused devastating flooding, landslides and serious damage to communities and roads in southern British Columbia last week, are expected to bring heavy rains, winds and risk of flooding. off the coast of British Columbia.
In preparation for the three predicted atmospheric rivers – long, narrow plumes of water vapor that can generate extreme rainfall and flooding – BC Hydro increased the volume of water along the Campbell River downstream of its three dams starting Tuesday afternoon. evening. There are now 128 cubic meters per second (m3 / s) coming out of the John Hart facility, BC Hydro spokesman Stephen Watson said in a statement.
The volumes of water in Elk Falls Canyon immediately below the dam increased to 25 times above normal flows at 100 m3 / s, Watson said.
The first storm is expected to last through Thursday, followed by another Saturday and possibly a third on Tuesday, Watson said.
People should also stay away from the Puntledge River until Dec. 6 because of triple the volume of water being released from the Comox Dam, he said.
The Provincial Center for River Forecasts also issued a high flow warning for Vancouver Island and the central and northern coast of British Columbia, predicting up to 200 millimeters of rain on western Vancouver Island and the exposed coastal sections of the mainland in the first storm alone.
The climate presents risks due to the cumulative impact of successive storms and the fact that snow melt is expected, the center said, adding that people should stay away from fast-flowing rivers and unstable riverbanks.
Environment Canada too issued wind warnings for Vancouver Island and the central and north coasts on Wednesday, forecasting strong southeast winds of 70 km / h with gusts of up to 90 km / h before subsiding Thursday morning, and gusts of up to 110 km / h in exposed coastal sections.
As a trio of new storms approach, BC Hydro is warning Vancouver Island residents to prepare for outages and avoid river systems with hydroelectric facilities because water is being released from dams to make room for strong rains. #BCstorm
Current flow release rates in the Campbell and Puntledge rivers are not unusual during the rainy season and flood risk management operations, BC Hydro said in an email.
The Campbell River’s flow is now 224 m3 / s and is expected to remain at this level until weather systems pass, Watson said.
When flow rates exceed 250 m3 / s, fish habitat along the river is adversely affected, while rates of 500 m3 / s in conjunction with high ocean tides can flood homes and commercial areas at along the river, BC Hydro said.
As far as the Puntledge River is concerned, flow rates during weather events can reach 300 m3 / s without issue, and BC Hydro reduces flow rates at high tides to reduce the amount of water flowing into the estuary and the risk of isolated floods. .
“The ocean’s high tide cycle this weekend is in the low-mid range, which is helpful, with really high tides scheduled for Dec. 5-10,” Watson said, adding that if the weather and conditions change, BC Hydro will issue another update. .
As it prepares for the next round of weather, BC Hydro is still working to deal with the extraordinary damage caused by the latest storm in BC, Chairman and CEO Chris O’Riley said in a statement.
There were record entries into some water reservoirs and 258,000 people suffered power outages, O’Riley said, adding that BC Hydro is still assessing the damage, which is expected to be in the millions.
Power has been restored for all customers in the province, except for those living in areas that are still under evacuation orders, and the utility is working with authorities to confirm when power can be safely restored.
BC Hydro is also working to replace infrastructure, such as transmission sites, power lines and cables, in many areas of the province, such as the Highway 8 corridor near Merritt, where crews must replace 87 power poles and 14 transformers. .
BC has declared a state of emergency and imposed travel restrictions after the fatal floods and landslides that flooded communities such as Sumas Prairie, Merritt and Princeton of Abbotsford.
Rochelle Baker / Local Journalism Initiative / Canada National Observer