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Third storm to hit flooded B.C. with 'a relatively strong punch'

A dangerous combination of snowmelt and 50 and 100 millimetres of rain could hit B.C.'s southwest, risking further flooding
With the combined efforts of ministry crews, Canadian military, Shxwowhamel Ventures, Abbotsford Police Department, Abbotsford Fire Department and RCMP, tiger dams were set up on Highway 1 in Abbotsford to hold back Sumas River flood waters.

British Columbians are receiving a 24-hour break before the third of three atmospheric rivers slams into the province on Tuesday.

The system with subtropical origins near the Philippines has travelled more than 8,000 kilometres over the past few days and will deliver "a relatively strong punch.”

During a provincial update Monday, Environment Canada Meteorologist Armel Castellan says the storm should deliver a similar amount of rain as what B.C. saw over the weekend — between 50 and 100 millimetres in the southwest of the province.

But the tropical nature of the system means the freezing level will rise above 2,500 metres, above mountaintop height, meaning plenty of snow will melt as well.

“So it's not just a rain event. It's not just a snow melting event. It's also a successive storm event. So even if the third storm is not as bad as it could have been in the modeling leading up to today, it will be problematic because they are coming so close back to back with the runoff and the saturated soil,” Castellan said.

Dave Campbell with the BC River Forecast Centre says flood risks persist throughout areas that have already been hit, including in the Nicola and Similkameen.

The provincial government announced Monday afternoon that Highways 3 and 99 have now reopened, restoring road links between the Interior and Lower Mainland.

Transportation Minister Rob Fleming said Monday they may close those highways again if required in advance of Tuesday’s storm.

“Despite the challenges that we're experiencing on our highways are broader supply chain is showing incredible resilience goods are still moving in British Columbia, freight trains are currently traveling in both directions on CP tracks,” he said.

He noted that CN Rail has diverted some shipping traffic through the Port of Prince Rupert, which has been impacted by the floods.

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth said the government is extending the restrictions on gasoline purchases in southwest B.C. as the Trans-Mountain pipeline remains out of commission.

Restrictions limited fuel purchases to 30 litres are now staying in place until at least Dec. 14, impacting the Lower Mainland to Hope region, Sea to Sky, Vancouver Island, Sunshine Coast and Gulf Islands. Officials say the vast majority of residents have abided by the restrictions.

Farnworth said the government is working as quickly as possible to restore life to normal as the holidays near.

“I understand that people have concerns about being able to travel to see family and friends. We understand that people want to be able to make travel plans,” he said.

“We are working to make good progress and repair travel corridors in the days and weeks, again, at this time the priority for fuel needs to be given to commercial and essential vehicles.”

The provincial government has also deployed additional resources to the central coast, particularly Bella Coola, which may be hit hard by the coming storm.

There is also more rain in the forecast expected for Saturday, although that weather system is not classified as an atmospheric river and details remain sketchy at this point.

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