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Expect heavy rain, possible flooding as storms approach Island

Rain is expected to start Sunday, before a “ very strong storm” settles in on Monday and Tuesday for much of Vancouver Island.
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Dark clouds hang over the Royal Victoria Yacht Club on Friday. DARREN STONE, TIMES COLONIST

After an unusually dry November, Islanders are being advised to brace for heavy rain as another atmospheric river heads toward the B.C. coast.

Rain is expected to start Sunday before a “very strong storm” settles in on Monday and Tuesday for much of Vancouver Island, said Environment Canada meteorologist Alyssa Charbonneau.

Charbonneau said that rain could melt snow that has already fallen in the mountains, leading to possible flooding.

“It’s definitely something to keep an eye on.”

A special-weather statement issued Friday afternoon is warning of high ocean levels on Saturday and Sunday on the Saanich Peninsula and the southern Gulf Islands due to a combination of tide conditions and low barometric pressure.

The effects will be at their greatest during high tide from mid-morning to late-morning, with minor coastal flooding a possibility on exposed shorelines.

The Town of Sidney has responded by setting up a self-serve sandbag station at Iroquois Park in case of flooding.

Ministry of Emergency Management and Climate Readiness also issued a weather bulletin that includes Vancouver Island, saying stormy conditions could extend through Thursday due to the atmospheric river.

West Vancouver Island in particular could see significant rainfall, said the ministry, which advised ensuring emergency kits are on hand, and clearing homes’ perimeter drains, eaves and gutters.

The ministry said it’s sending out four million sandbags to local governments in case of flooding. Also at the ready are 10 kilometres of “gabions” — wall-like structures filled with sand — and 32 kilometres of “tiger dams” — stackable orange tubes filled with water.

If flooding is a possibility, park at a distance from waterways and move electrical appliances to upper floors, the ministry said.

It also warned against walking or driving through flood water, explaining that just six inches of fast-moving water can knock over an adult and two feet is enough to carry away most vehicles.

It all follows a November that was drier than normal across the Island, although no records were set, Charbonneau said.

“Certainly, the last week or so has been quite dry, which is not common for November in coastal British Columbia.”

jbell@timescolonist.com