A satellite view of an atmospheric river flowing into Vancouver Island.

Photo Credit: Windy.com

Atmospheric River Targeting VanIsle – So It’ll Be Wet This Weekend, Real Wet

Watch out for the "river in the sky"

It’s time to get your Gortex out, and if your in a flood zone maybe your kayak

Don’t bother with an umbrella this weekend. You’ll probably get soaked anyway.

Environment Canada has upgraded its weather alert for parts of VanIsle. First, it was a rainfall watch, but now it’s a rainfall warning. And it’s supposed to rain a lot.

A map of Vancouver Island with the predicted rainfall listed over each city.
A bucket of rain is heading for Vancouver Island and the BC south coast. Forecast by SkyTracker / Global News.

WestIsle and Comox Valley will be the wettest places on the island. So, Environment Canada is warning folks in the regions to watch out for overflowing streams and flash floods.

To make matters worse, it’s going to get cold in the mountains. It could snow up there, and when the snow melts, it’ll make flooding more intense.

Emergency services on VanIsle are already pretty stretched, so it will be interesting to see how they handle intense rains. Floods could pop up in a lot of places, and they might happen without any warning.

So why is this happening?

Mark Madryga is a meteorologist for Global News. “A ‘river’ of atmospheric moisture is flowing high above the Pacific Ocean,” he said, “and [it’s] taking aim at BC.”

An atmospheric river is a long, narrow band in the atmosphere that sucks up large amounts of moisture from warm tropical regions. It really is like a river in the sky.

Only when an atmospheric river gets going, it can carry up to 70 times the amount of water flowing through the mouth of the Fraser River.

That, my friends, is a lot of water.

Folks might want to know, is this climate change?

And the answer is not really, but kind of.

Frustrating, right? But here’s why.

Atmospheric rivers have always been a thing, you know? They’re part of the global water cycle, and they’re always kind of flowing around the planet.

With climate change, we might even get fewer atmospheric rivers coming our way. But the ones we do get will be doozies. They’ll be wider, and they’ll carry even more water.

And that kind of rain will test everything from our storm drains to flood rescue plans.

So we can’t point to this one atmospheric river and declare, “that’s climate change.” But we can stand in the rain this weekend and say, “this is what climate change feels like.”