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Season’s first ‘atmospheric river’ hits Sunshine Coast

Atmospheric river doesn't necessarily mean damage, says Environment Canada.
Rain falls on Sechelt Oct. 27 as part of the first atmospheric river of the season.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for the Sunshine Coast Oct. 27, due to a “vigorous” cold front sweeping through the Lower Mainland.

The frontal system is expected to bring “rain and strong winds to the south coast,” said the statement, issued 4:55 a.m. Oct. 27. Winds of 60 kilometres per hour were expected to hit Thursday morning, with gusts reaching as high as 80 km along the Strait of Georgia.

With the winds have come power outages. More than 1,000 homes lost power this morning in Sechelt and Pender Harbour, according to a BC Hydro outage map.

The 884 homes affected in Sechelt are located north of Delta Road along the Sechelt Inlet. Crews are on-site and power is expected to return by noon.

Crews are also on-site in Pender Harbour, where 230 homes East of Jervis Inlet Road remained without power as of 11 a.m. Power is expected to return by 2 p.m.

Winds have also affected marine transport. BC Ferries has cancelled all sailings to Keats Island and Gambier Island from the mainland Sunshine Coast on Thursday, from 10:15 to 6:30 p.m.

Most of the rainfall is anticipated to fall this afternoon and into this evening, Environment Canada meteorologist Derek Lee told Coast Reporter, with an accumulation of between 20 and 30 millimetres.

Strong winds will likely ease by noon in Sechelt, with gusts dropping to 40 kilometres per hour, according to the Environment Canada statement. In the lower part of the Coast winds were expected to weaken by the afternoon and early evening as the front passes through.

By 11 a.m. on Thursday, no major interruptions on the roads were observed, said Andrew McKay, manager of roads with Capilano Highways, save for a call for a tree down in the Gower Point area.

“Rain is going to be the heavier issue,” said McKay. “We’ll be watching for catch basins and culverts and making sure the flooding doesn’t repeat itself.”

He advised property owners to check culverts and catch basins linked to their property and sweeping and raking to ensure they’re clear.

More rain this weekend

This is the first of two fronts flowing through the region over the next few days, with between 20 and 40 mm of rain expected to start falling late Saturday and into Sunday.

Lee said it’s “definitely possible” that Sechelt will receive “anywhere between 50 and 70 mm of rain” by month’s end.

From Oct. 1 and Oct. 27 at 11 a.m. 34 mm of rain have fallen on Sechelt, while the first “noticeable amount” of rain recorded in Sechelt was Oct. 21, said Lee.

While the term “atmospheric river” has been associated with intense flooding and damage in B.C., Lee said not all at rivers are destructive.

“Atmospheric rivers bring the higher chance of seeing higher precipitation because it’s a transport of moisture from the tropics,” said Lee, adding the current systems are “totally what we would usually see during this time of year.”

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