Environment Canada is fast-tracking new rating system for atmospheric rivers

Nov 20 2021, 9:04 pm

In updates on November 19 and 20, the provincial government announced that following an extraordinary atmospheric river event that brought devastating flooding to parts of BC, Environment Canada will be fast-tracking a new rating system.

Atmospheric rivers are “like rivers in the sky” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) definition.

They are long and narrow regions in the atmosphere that carry water vapour. Then, when they make landfall, they dump the water vapour as precipitation.

On Sunday, November 14, heavy rain from an atmospheric river event caused extensive flooding and mudslides in BC – so much so that municipalities and the province declared a state of emergency.

“Based on what we’ve seen in BC, Environment Canada is speeding up developing a new ranking system for atmospheric rivers,” said Mike Farnsworth, Minister of Public Safety and Solicitor General, in a November 20 emergency preparedness update.

Farnsworth said he had been in talks with Environment Canada regarding the new rating system, which will be based on an already existing US model.

“This will help all of us be better prepared for everything from local flooding and winds to bigger storm events,” said Farnsworth.

While the new rating system is being developed, the province is urging British Columbians to get prepared for future stormy weather.

“As we pass through fall and head towards winter, I urge people to pay close attention to weather warnings given the unpredictability that comes with climate change,” said Farnsworth.

Another storm is headed for BC and Environment Canada warned that the coming storm will hit the North Coast region.

As it progresses, it will approach the Fraser Valley and will hit areas that were already affected by recent flooding, so Environment Canada may release more warnings and alerts for the Fraser Valley over the weekend.

You can follow Environment Canada for the latest weather updates and alerts.

Sarah AndersonSarah Anderson

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