Drought levels across southern British Columbia have been scaled back for the first time in weeks as a series of powerful storms have drenched the region, including one due to deliver as much as 70 millimetres of rain before easing by nightfall.
The province’s online drought map shows most of southern B.C., including east Vancouver Island and Metro Vancouver, is now ranked at drought Level 3, which means adverse drought impacts are possible.
That’s a drop from the most severe Level 5 rating, which covered much of the Island and inner south coast until this week.
Level 5 ranking, which means adverse drought effects are almost certain, is still posted for the northeast corner of the province and in the Kettle region of southern B.C., while the Sunshine Coast, Nicola, Coldwater, Parsnip and Finlay basins are ranked at Level 4.
As drought conditions ease, a high streamflow advisory is now posted for waterways across Vancouver and the central and south coasts as the River Forecast Centre says rivers, especially on the south coast, were expected to rise through the day.
There’s also concern that heavy snow at high elevations will melt as the latest storm passes and temperatures climb, swelling some streams and rivers even further.
Snowfall warnings are up for areas including the Okanagan, Prince George, Cariboo and 100 Mile regions, as well as sections of the Sea-to-Sky, Coquihalla and Yellowhead highways and higher elevations of highways 1, 3, and 97.
Accumulations of up to 25 centimetres were expected on some of those routes before the snow was forecast to turn to rain.
“Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions,” Environment Canada advised in weather warnings posted for B.C.’s high mountain passes. “Rapidly accumulating snow will make travel difficult.”