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Caution urged on roads, near waterways as ‘atmospheric river’ drenches B.C.’s South Coast

Residents of B.C.’s south coast are being warned to be cautious on the roads and around waterways as an “atmospheric river” delivers buckets of rain to the region.

Environment Canada has issued rainfall warnings for Metro Vancouver, the Fraser Valley, the Sunshine Coast, Howe Sound, Whistler and eastern and western Vancouver Island.

Read more: B.C.’s South Coast under rainfall warning as ‘atmospheric river’ approaches

Global BC chief meteorologist Mark Madryga said a pair of inbound Pacific frontal systems could deliver between 75 and 150 millimetres of rain to parts of the region by Sunday morning.

“It’s going to wobble back and forth and basically sit right over us between now and early Sunday and that means rain, heavy at times,” he said.

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“Don’t be surprised if the rain lets up in a few evenings and then comes back, and maybe lets up a bit tomorrow afternoon as those waves move in.”

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The rainfall, coupled with a rising freezing level and snowmelt, could swell local waterways, prompting high streamflow advisories from the B.C. River Forecast Centre.

Forecast centre hydrologist Jonathan Boyd urged people to keep back from the potentially unstable banks of streams and rivers.

“They’re very dangerous with respect to going out into the wilderness or going hiking, and also the peaks can happen in the middle of the night,” he said.

“Any area that is low-lying along one of the rivers that is susceptible to fall flooding is at risk from this event.”

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Read more: ‘Follow the forecast week by week’: B.C.’s weather outlook for fall and winter

BC Ferries said it is also monitoring the possibility of strong winds with the rainstorm, but that it doesn’t anticipate any major disruptions.

“If the forecast comes through as predicted, it should be windy down south but not impact our service,” BC Ferries spokesperson Deborah Marshall said.

“But over in the Northern Gulf Islands, winds are expected to be stronger, so it may affect some of our service.”

The heavy rain is forecast to start letting up on Sunday, with a potential return to sunny skies by Monday.

In the meantime, drivers are being asked to slow down and ensure their lights are on.

Residents are also urged to clear any potential drainage sites on or around their property to prevent flooding.