- On Monday, torrential rain lashed Canada’s Pacific coast, forcing the evacuation of a town and trapping motorists as mudslides, rocks, and debris washed across significant highways.
- According to local media, 275 people were stuck overnight in their cars between two mudslides on Highway 7 near Agassiz, British Columbia.
Additional mudslides near Lillooet and Haig have stranded more travelers since the morning, according to Mike Farnworth, the province’s public safety minister, at a news conference.
Meanwhile, Merritt, around 300 kilometers (185 miles) from the coast, has ordered the evacuation of its entire population of 7,000 people after flooding damaged the local wastewater treatment plant and washed down two bridges. Barricades were also raised to prevent entry to the settlement.
According to Farnworth, search, and rescue workers were dispatched to release persons stuck in 80 to 100 cars on Highway 7 for hours without food or drink. “Many people have been saved from mudslides near Agassiz and Hope by helicopters, and crews are trying to rescue the remaining people in the coming hours,” he said.
The flowing Coldwater River was one of many that overflowed its muddy banks Monday, filling up the streets of nearby communities in southern British Columbia as if they were part of a stoppered bathtub as a month’s worth of rain flowed down over 48 hours.
An atmospheric river, a solid mass of water vapor clouds moving moisture from the tropics and subtropics to the poles and falling as rain is responsible for the extreme rainfall.
Paul and Pamela Deol, together with their children Shawn, 6, and Dylan, 4, were kept on the highway on their way home to Langley on Sunday after visiting family in Kelowna when they became caught by the mudslides.
Atmospheric Rivers have significantly been a part of British Columbia’s coastal environment, but experts believe that climate change makes them more significant and more common in the province. They also think what happened in southern British Columbia on Monday is precisely what you’d expect from a storm exacerbated by climate change.
Source: TORONTO Star, TOI
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