A high streamflow advisory for east Vancouver Island streams from Parksville to Campbell River has been upgraded to a flood watch, the B.C. River Forecast Centre announced Sunday afternoon, Jan. 28.
The forecast centre issued a bulletin at 5:45 p.m. Sunday to announce a flood watch for the Englishman River in Parksville, and for the Tsolum River and Oyster River in the Comox Valley-Campbell River region. It included tributaries “around Campbell River, Courtenay, Comox, Parksville and surrounding areas.”
The high streamflow advisory had been issued two days earlier in anticipation of the arrival of a storm system bearing high levels of precipitation beginning Sunday.
As of 5:45 p.m. Jan. 28, the River Forecast Centre reported, rainfall amounts have ranged from 30-70mm in the Parksville Qualicum Beach region; 35-90mm around Courtenay and surrounding areas; 30-50mm in the Nanaimo region; and 40-55mm around Port Alberni. The west coast of Vancouver Island has received amounts from 100-130mm, though Port Alberni and the West Coast remain under the high streamflow advisory and have not been upgraded to a flood watch.
Under a flood watch, river levels are observed rising and will approach or may exceed bankfull. Overtopping and flooding of areas adjacent to rivers may occur, the forecast centre reported. A flood watch is the intermediate level of advisory, followed by a flood warning.
The B.C. River Forecast Centre issued the initial high streamflow advisory for the eastern region of mid-Vancouver Island Friday, Jan. 26, citing an atmospheric storm system that arrived on Sunday and is expected to continue into early Monday, Jan. 29. It is calling for heavy rainfall, ranging from 50 to 160mm, with heaviest accumulations in upslope areas and lower amounts on the eastern slopes of Vancouver Island.
The River Forecast Centre said temperatures associated with the storm are forecast to increase, and that snowmelt from mid-slope elevations may add to the runoff.
The advisory warns river levels are expected rise throughout Sunday, with peak levels forecast for Monday and potentially into Tuesday.
A high streamflow advisory cautions that river levels are rising or are expected to rise rapidly, but that no major flooding is expected. Minor flooding in low-lying areas is possible. This is the lowest level of the River Forecast Centre’s three flood advisories.
For updates, visit the River Forecast Centre’s flood warnings and advisory page at bcrfc.env.gov.bc.ca.
— NEWS staff and BC River Forecast Centre bulletin