Providing Regional Climate Services to British Columbia

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PCIC Director Provides Comments on Recent Flooding

Following a powerful atmospheric river event that broke at least 20 rainfall records across southern BC, PCIC Director Francis Zwiers was one of several experts contacted by the Canadian Press to provide some comments on the situation. Dr. Zwiers pointed out that, "we're affecting the frequency and intensity of many kinds of events" and that "what we're seeing is not inconsistent with what the climate models are saying," a point echoed by the other experts in the article. He also noted that, "there's a role for human influence, but there's a lot of natural influence as well." This underscores the need for detection and attribution to tease out and quantify the human influence on a given extreme weather event. Commenting on the future, he said, "precipitation extremes are probably going to become more intense as the climate warms."  Related work at PCIC has recently examined changes to extreme precipitationprojected increases in flooding events along the Fraser River from atmospheric river events and projected changes in landslides in BC due to precipitation.

The atmospheric river event caused unprecedented flooding, forcing multiple communities to be evacuated. It left over 200,000 homes without power and the combination of mudslides and washouts have caused Vancouver and several other communities, to be completely cut off by land travel from the rest of Canada. It has also forced more than 17,000 people to evacuate their homes and prompted a state of emergency to be declared in BC.

For more information, read the article in the Vancouver Sun.