Latest in series of storms passing over still-flooded B.C. 'not as severe as forecast'
Officials in British Columbia say the province is "on the other end" of a series of intense storms that caused mudslides, flooding and deaths.
Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth started his daily update Thursday with what is likely welcome news for thousands of residents who've been impacted by the extreme weather: the worst of it "appears to be behind us."
The forecast includes more seasonally typical conditions for the next week, he said. There will be some rain, but nothing like the precipitation brought by the numerous "atmospheric rivers" that passed over southern B.C. in the past several weeks.
The third in a trio of these systems struck this week, and prompted evacuation orders and pre-emptive road closures, as well as multiple mudslides.
But it could have been worse.
"The latest events were not as severe as forecast," Farnworth said.
After days of renewed weather warnings, Environment Canada lifted all alerts in B.C. Thursday as conditions eased in parts impacted by the storms.
Farnworth said the River Forecast Centre is also taking down many of its advisories, as water levels are expected to drop.
"The process of recovering and rebuilding is already underway, and while it will take time, I'm confident that we will get there," Farnworth said.
Still, those who live nearby or visit those areas recreationally are advised to be wary as snowmelt is still feeding the swollen rivers.
As of Thursday afternoon, warnings remained in place for the Chilliwack River at Vedder Crossing and above Slesse Creek, and for the Coquihalla River above Alexander Creek. Several others are under less severe flood watches and high streamflow advisories.
But conditions had improved enough that a section of Highway 1, which closed Sunday for a second time due to flooding, was reopened between Chilliwack and Abbotsford Thursday.
Part of Highway 99, however, was closed late Wednesday and remained closed Thursday due to a new mudslide. Last month, another mudslide made that highway the site of the deaths of four people, and the presumed death of a fifth who is still missing.
While things are looking up in some areas, new evacuation orders and alerts were issued Thursday, including for properties outside Keremeos and Pemberton.
Farnworth urged residents of B.C. not to allow themselves to get complacent as the conditions improve.
He said steps should be taken as winter approaches, including the monitoring of travel alerts, limiting non-essential trips when conditions are poor, switching to winter tires and keeping an emergency kit in their vehicle.
With files from The Canadian Press
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