Flooding happened very quickly at the corner of Chemainus Road and Crofton Road from the Chemainus River last Thursday. (Photo by Tami Graham)

Flood takes over where winds left off in the Chemainus Valley

Region continues to be rocked by systems during early 2019

As fast as the winds decreased, the waters levels increased.

It’s been a crazy couple of weeks in the Chemainus Valley since the Dec. 20 windstorm knocked out power in the region to many residences for several days.

People were just getting back to normal after that and trying to celebrate Christmas in as close to normal fashion as possible when torrential rains hit last Thursday.

The Chemainus River spilled over its banks and onto roadways and properties, making it very difficult to get around for a while.

Chemainus and Crofton fire departments were paged last Thursday afternoon after a report of people stuck in their vehicle due to flooding at Pinson’s Corner, near the Chemainus and Crofton Roads intersection.

The departments quickly worked to close the badly-flooded Westholme Road, and called in their rescue boat. North Cowichan’s fire rescue boat was taken to the scene.

When crews arrived, the vehicle’s occupants had already gotten out and were no longer on the scene.

Pinson’s Corner, near Westholme Road, remained closed due to flooding Friday, with a detour from Herd Road to Osborne Bay Road for traffic in and out of Crofton. Westholme Road was closed past the Halalt reserve Thursday, with traffic detoured at Mount Sicker Road.

Bobbin Hicks lives right in the flood area by the Chemainus River in the longtime family homestead and wanted everyone to know her family is all right after a photo of the water surrounding her home was posted on the Chemainus Valley Courier Facebook page.

“As always the flood is exciting to watch, but doesn’t feel threatening,” she explained.

Hicks said she was concerned, however, about the failure of the powers that be to live up to their mandate of ‘flood protection’.

“The gravel bar needs to be removed and the banks need to be maintained,” she added. “In the past it was a huge riverbank fortified with rip rap. That, too, has not been done in many years.”

Meanwhile, another power outage affected Mount Sicker Road residents a few days later, as wave after wave of storms continue to strike the region. More are apparently lined up in the Pacific to continue in the week ahead.

We only seem to catch a short break before the next system rolls in. The rainfall total has obviously been accumulating to extremes.

According to weather statistics compiled by Environment Canada volunteer Chris Carss at his Chemainus home, December’s total rainfall was 376.8 millimetres, compared to the normal of 226.9 mm.

“A weak El Nino event that started, then faded, in November found some new life for awhile by mid-December,” noted Carss. “The month as a whole continued the trend towards slightly above normal temperatures and above normal sunshine in the Chemainus Valley. As might be expected in these conditions, the number of wet days was a little below normal, but some unusually heavy downpours on a few of those wet days resulted in a total accumulated rainfall for the month that was well above the usual amount.

“Like November, most of the sunshine came early in the month. However, unlike November, temperatures peaked near the middle of December, with cooler and more normal values being seen near the beginning and again near the end of the month, by which time El Nino seemed to be in hibernation once again.”

The cool wet weather of late December continued into early January, Carss noted, as the warm Pacific ocean current remained in retreat except for a brief mild spell on the third and fourth.

“The same pattern is expected to continue for the rest of January with near to slightly below normal sunshine, mostly near to slightly above normal temperatures, and frequent precipitation mostly in the form of rain. A few cooler days during January may see a bit of wet snow mixed in as well. El Nino should make a pre-vernal comeback in early February but it isn’t clear yet if that will carry us all the way to spring.”

The mean daily maximum temperature for December was 7.5 degrees Celsius. The normal is 6.4C.

The mean minimum was 3.1C, again slightly above the normal of 2.4C. The respective extreme maximums and minimums were 12.5C on Dec. 14 and -2C on Dec. 7.

There were nine days of mostly or partly sunny conditions, with five days of sunshine being the norm. Of the 22 mostly cloudy days, 19 had rainfall that was surprisingly two less than the 21 normal precipitation days.

On Thetis Island, weather records kept by Keith Rush indicate there was much less rainfall than Chemainus in December. But the 233.1 mm was the second wettest during Rush’s stint of record-keeping behind the 269 mm in December 2015.

The total rainfall in December of 2017 on Thetis was just 115.7 mm.

An average December yields 149.7 mm. The 2018 rainfall total reached 1,135.6 mm, above the annual average total of 1,016.8 mm and surpassing the 2017 total of 1,082.6 mm.

Rush pointed out this has been the third wettest year behind 1,359.2 mm in 2016 and 1,188 mm in 2010.

 

Fire Department closed the road at Chemainus and Crofton Roads after intense flooding last Thursday. (Photo by Tami Graham)

Water surrounded Bobbin Hicks’ home along the Chemainus River, as it often does, but without any internal damage. (Photo by Don Bodger)

A police car cuts off access to Crofton Road from Chemainus Road due to flooding. (Photo by Don Bodger)

Signs indicate road closures and flooding at the Chemainus River bridge. (Photo by Don Bodger)

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