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Potential flooding, landslides and snow forecast for Vancouver Island

Snow may fall on mountain passes as December kicks off
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Residents should watch for rainfall warnings and potential river advisories with heavy rain expected to start Monday (Dec. 4). (Black Press Media file photo)

Snow may fall on higher mountain passes in the next couple of days, but impending rain and wind are the wildcards to kick off Vancouver Island December weather.

After an unusually dry fall on the south coast, “the cycle is essentially kicking up a notch over the next two days,” Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada told Black Press Media on Friday (Dec. 1).

“We’re looking at a big shift in the weather from dry to wet again, particularly leading into the Monday, Tuesday.”

There will be snow ahead of that significant precipitation shift, for areas upward of 300 metres, meaning potential flurries near the summit of the Malahat on Highway 1. Other Island mountain passes north of Campbell River and Sutton Pass on Highway 4 could see accumulation.

Precipitation expected to start Monday and Tuesday has potential implications around flooding and landslides.

However, wildfire burn scars are known to be susceptible to heavy rain.

“We will be likely issuing a special weather statement and possible rain warnings … in the next couple of days,” he said.

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While not a repeat of the mid-November 2021 levels, rainfall expected could be classified scientifically as an atmospheric river and people should be prepared, he said.

Impacts could range from power outages to landslides such as the Nov. 20 event, in Alaska that claimed lives.

“It was very clearly linked to the rainfall intensity, so we really just want everybody to be on alert this could create some impacts,” he said.

Castellan recommends residents monitor the river forecast centre updates as they look at issuing alerts and advisories over the next few days. Find those online at bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca/warnings/index.htm.

For those planning backcountry excursions the big shifts in precipitation and temperatures can have a significant impact on safety in the alpine areas. Castellan suggests residents utilize Avalanche Canada (online at avalanche.ca/map) to get a good understanding of where freezing levels are and the impacts of rain.

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Christine van Reeuwyk

About the Author: Christine van Reeuwyk

I'm dedicated to serving the community of Oak Bay as a senior journalist with the Greater Victoria news team.
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