Flood watches lifted in B.C., but Environment Canada forecasts more rain

VANCOUVER — No weather warnings or watches were posted across British Columbia for the first time in weeks early Wednesday and flood watches on the south coast were lifted before noon, but Environment Canada said more rain was on the way.

The River Forecast Centre downgraded a flood watch in the Fraser Valley to a high streamflow advisory and ended all other watches and advisories covering waterways on Vancouver Island and the inner south coast.

A statement from the centre said river levels in most areas had peaked and were receding, although it said the Sumas River through the Fraser Valley remained elevated due to slower drainage and could see small additional rises before conditions ease Thursday.

Communities around the Georgia Strait were also keeping a close eye on sea levels as more exceptionally high tides were due Thursday and Friday.

Vancouver recorded a high tide of 4.9 metres by mid-morning Wednesday, slightly lower than Tuesday's five-metre tide, and although some seaside walkways were briefly flooded, the city reported no damage for a second day.

In eastern B.C., recent snowstorms followed by warming temperatures prompted Avalanche Canada to issue a special warning about a potential for avalanches over the next five days within a huge swath of backcountry from north of Prince George, south almost to Castlegar and Kimberley.

"The storm cycles that hit Western Canada over the past weekend added significant snow on top of an exceptionally weak lower snowpack," said a statement from Avalanche Canada.

"This has brought the conditions to a tipping point where dangerous avalanches are likely," the statement said.

Even if conditions improve, the agency noted the risk of an avalanche would remain, and it urged backcountry users to stay off steep slopes until at least Jan. 2.

Elsewhere, avalanche conditions were ranked as "high" in parts of southeastern B.C., where Avalanche Canada said recent heavy snow on a weak snowpack had raised the risk to "very dangerous."

Human-triggered avalanches were "very likely," it said, while conditions on coastal mountains, Vancouver Island, sections of the Okanagan, Shuswap and northwestern B.C. were rated as "considerable," with backcountry users urged to carefully evaluate their routes.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 28, 2022.

The Canadian Press