Residents warned to stay away from rivers, streams as flood watch in effect

·2 min read
Visitors flocked to Capilano River Regional Park Saturday to watch waters gush from the Cleveland Dam, as water levels rose quickly from heavy rainfall.  (Janella Hamilton/CBC - image credit)
Visitors flocked to Capilano River Regional Park Saturday to watch waters gush from the Cleveland Dam, as water levels rose quickly from heavy rainfall. (Janella Hamilton/CBC - image credit)

Residents are warned to stay away from rivers and streams as parts of the North Shore, Lower Mainland and Sunshine Coast are currently under a flood watch, while Metro Vancouver remains under a rainfall warning.

Environment Canada said 75 to 150 millimetres of rain is expected to fall between Friday and Sunday morning, causing rivers and streams to rise very quickly.

"This one definitely is packing a pretty good punch to it," said Dave Campbell, head of B.C.'s River Forecast Centre.

"The flow might be five to 10 times as high as it was a couple of days ago, even. So, it's a very rapid change."

A flood watch is issued when river levels are rising and may approach or exceed bankfull.

Campbell says when this happens, concern rises for public safety, especially for those who are venturing into the outdoors.

"If you're spectating and viewing [rising rivers], it's obviously pretty exciting to do that. But do it from a safe distance," he said.

Visitors flocked to watch gushing river

Some opted to do just that on Saturday, visiting Capilano River Regional Park to see waters gush from the Cleveland Dam.

"We wanted to see the river. We knew it would be up high and that's why we came," said Guy Lee, who watched the river from the walkway.

Madeleine Downey wanted to see it from the lookout overlooking the dam.

"It's basically a sheet of water that's coming at you. We didn't make it all the way to the end because we were soaked, dripping, in fact," she said.

'People underestimate how powerful it really is'

Rescue crews in the North Shore are warning visitors to be careful near rivers and streams, advising them to keep a safe distance.

"I think people underestimate how powerful it really is," said Jim Loree, manager of North Shore Rescue.

"Even just being in the water a little bit can knock you off your feet, sweep you down the stream and then it's hard to get control of that again. On top of that, you have the cold. Somebody falls in, they can't even catch their breath, initially."

While the rivers and streams are quick to rise, they're also quick to come down, says Campbell.

"We may be close to the peak river levels right now. But we do expect, with the exception of maybe some of the big rivers like the Squamish River, that we'll see improving conditions tomorrow."

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