Several Quebec rivers at risk of flooding amid rain, unseasonably warm temperatures

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MONTREAL — Several Quebec rivers are at risk of flooding and an evacuation has been ordered in parts of the city of Sainte-Brigitte-de-Laval, north of Quebec City.

Almost 200 people have been evacuated, said Audrey Beaulieu, the deputy city manager.

Flooding has begun in some parts of the municipality of 8,000 people, Beaulieu said, but municipal authorities believe that no lives are at risk, due to the evacuations.

However, she said river levels are expected to reach record highs this evening.

The Red Cross is helping to relocate people who have been evacuated and don't have anywhere else to go, the municipality said.

A private bridge in the area is "at risk" and around 10 people are in an isolated area, said Steve Boivin, a senior adviser at Quebec's Civil Security department in an interview, adding that different ways to evacuate those residents are currently being considered.

Quebec provincial police were asked to deploy a helicopter to monitor the area that is being evacuated, but it was unable to take off.

"The ceiling is too low and there is too much fog," said police spokeswoman Sgt. Ann Mathieu, adding that police on the ground were helping firefighters carry out the evacuations.

The flooding comes amid heavy rains and melting snow.

"The river basins in several regions of Quebec, especially those located north of the St. Lawrence river, are responding to the rain and the melting over the last few hours," Boivin said, adding that the Quebec City region is particularly affected.

There, multiple rivers have been swollen by the rain which is expected to continue for several more hours.

Civil security has been alert for two days after forecasts called for heavy rain and warmer temperatures, Boivin said.

"With the rain that is falling and the melting accelerating, we're following the situation closely and expect other overflows."

The warm temperatures have led to significant snow melting and broken records.

At the Massif, a ski hill in Charlevoix, northeast of Quebec City, 36 centimetres of snow were on the slopes on Thursday, by Friday, no more than 12 centimetres were left, said Environment Canada meteorologist Dominic Martel, who described the melting as "very considerable" and out of the ordinary.

In Montreal, the record high for Dec. 25 of 11.7 C, recorded in 1964. was broken with a high of 13.6 C. In Trois-Rivieres, the record high of 8.9 C, also set in 1964, was broken with a high of 12.1 C.

Around 2:30 pm, Granby, Que. was the warmest place in the country at 16.9 C.

However, temperatures are expected to fall back below 0 C overnight.

Boivin warned people to avoid non-essential travel, as roads are expected to become slippery.

A rainfall warning remained in effect for much of central Quebec on Friday afternoon with Environment Canada warning that there is a risk of flash floods and localized flooding in low-lying areas in some parts of the province.

Between 50 and 70 millimetres of rain are expected in the Quebec City area, with some nearby areas expected to receive up to 130 millimetres by the evening.

Between 40 and 70 millimetres of rain are expected north of Montreal, however a rainfall warning is no longer in effect for the city itself and the regions immediately north of it.

While southern Quebec is seeing warm temperatures and rain, Environment Canada has issued blizzard warnings for three regions in the province's far north, where high winds and heavy snow are expected tomorrow morning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Dec. 25, 2020.

Michel Saba, The Canadian Press