Barricades block off a street where an excavator and several people wearing raingrear are working

Sunshine Coast Weathers Atmospheric Rivers

Editor’s note: Cortes Island tends to be a bit drier than the Sunshine Coast. Data from the Cortes Island School weather station shows that 62.4 mm fell between January 26 and February 1. That is 8.5 mm less than what the following article states fell in Sechelt.

According to the Snow Conditions Commentary, on the BC Government website, “Beginning on January 26th, a series of storms impacted the province, primarily impacting Vancouver Island and the South Coast. Many of the storms were classified as atmospheric rivers sourced from tropical regions. The result was very heavy rainfall through much of the coast with temperatures at or near record high temperatures during the period of January 26 to February 1st.”

The closure of Dakota Ridge, due to a unseasonably low snowpack, is troubling. This is not an isolated incident and may lead to low streamflow during the summer. Mount Cain is closed until further notice. A post on their website states, ‘We do not have enough snow to safely operate. We need a big dump to get back up and running, like 50cm at least.” The slopes at Mount Washington have been closed ‘for the last couple of days’ but are scheduled to reopen today.

By Jordan Copp, Coast Reporter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

A series of atmospheric rivers had heavy rain and wind battering B.C.’s South Coast region this week. 

While the Sunshine Coast fared better than other parts of the province, as of Wednesday, the southern Sunshine Coast was under a flood watch from the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

In Sechelt, 70.7 mm of rain fell over the course of seven days with 28.7mm falling on Jan. 27. The atmospheric rivers also brought unseasonably warm weather, breaking daily record highs in the area. On Jan. 29, Sechelt and Gibsons saw record-breaking temperatures of 16.2 C.

Ahead of the storms, Environment Canada had warned of the warm temperatures, elevated freezing levels and periods of heavy rain increasing the potential for flooding, pooling water and possible landslides in the South Coast region. 

Dakota Ridge 

On Jan. 29, Dakota Ridge had to close, less than a month after its delayed opening on Jan. 11 as a result of the warmer temperatures. 

The warm temperatures combined with heavy rainfall has washed away the ski and snowshoe trails, and staff have decided it is unsafe to remain open, said a SCRD announcement on Jan. 29. 

The announcement states that the team at Dakota Ridge will be reassessing the situation frequently in hopes of reopening the area as soon as safely possible.

Road troubles

Environment Canada’s warning rang true as the week started with a bang – or with a flood – as a log swept down Cook Creek resulting in an overflow, washing out sections of the road.

Reef Road was closed to traffic between Marine Way and the Sechelt Community Centre, between Jan. 29 and 31. Traffic heading to Kinnikinnick Elementary, Sechelt Arena, Blue Ocean Golf Course, Fairway, Lookout, Gale and The Shores was re-routed through West Sechelt.

As of Jan. 31, the blocked culvert was cleared and Reef Road reopened. 

While the road is open, crews are still working on-scene, said a Jan. 31 District of Sechelt notice. Residents are reminded to slow down and follow all construction signage. 

Reef Road wasn’t the only route impacted by the weather. There were scheduled closures of Highway 101 at Trout Lake on Feb.1 to address potential road flooding issues caused by beaver activity in the area and heavy rains. (See the story on page 5).

The roads east of Sechelt also took a hit this week. The morning of Jan. 31, commuters between Sechelt and Gibsons were in for a surprise as a fallen tree knocked over transmission lines near Highway 101 and Byng Road, resulting in traffic being rerouted through Lower Road from 7 a.m. to just after noon, when traffic alternated one lane until it reopened just after 3 p.m.

– With files from Connie Jordison

Top image credit: The section of Reef Road that was washed out by the heavy rains. – Jordan Copp, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

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