Another atmospheric river is forecast to bring heavy rain to coastal British Columbia by late Thursday and this one could drench drought-stricken areas that have been bypassed by recent storms.
Environment Canada models show 40 to 50 millimetres of rain is forecast through to Saturday in Comox on Vancouver Island and in Sechelt on the Sunshine Coast, which are both ranked at drought Level 5, the most severe rating on the drought scale.
Rain is predicted to be even heavier on the west coast of Vancouver Island, where about 80 mm could fall in less than 36 hours and models show some Metro Vancouver communities may receive 60 mm or more.
Vancouver Island, the inner south coast including the Sunshine Coast, parts of the southern Interior and all of northeastern B.C. are listed at drought Level 4 or 5, meaning damaging effects of the dry conditions are “likely” or “almost certain.”
Comox recorded just 22 mm of rain in October, far below its average of 123, but Environment Canada says end-of-the-month downpours helped push many regions closer to seasonal averages.
After almost no rain since early July, the weather office says nearly 70 mm fell in Sechelt in the final days of October, enough to ease extraordinary water restrictions at midnight Tuesday that shuttered numerous businesses, including the local ice rink.
However, the rain isn’t enough for the district to lift ongoing water conservation orders or a drought-induced local state of emergency.
A statement from the Sunshine Coast Regional District issued Monday said the “cautious” easing of the Oct. 18 restrictions was approved as recent rain boosted flows from its severely depleted main reservoir, which serves about 90 per cent of area homes and businesses.
“This year, we have almost skipped fall weather at higher elevations, having transitioned quickly from an extended summer drought to winter freezing conditions,” the statement said.
If more rain doesn’t come or temperatures drop to freezing, the district said it would consider returning to water restrictions for non-essential businesses such as breweries and gravel, concrete and asphalt companies.