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Monday, March 20, 2023

A Violent Storm Cuts Transport Links Around Vancouver

Road and rail lines surrounding Vancouver, Canada, have been disrupted by a devastating storm that officials have described as a once-in-a-century meteorological phenomenon.

Two highways linking the city on the West Coast have been blocked due to extreme floods.

The enormous storm that hit on Monday prompted tens of thousands of people to flee their homes.

A lady was killed in a highway collapse, and at least two other individuals are missing, according to rescuers.

According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, the woman’s body was discovered in Lillooet, some 250 kilometers (155 miles) from Vancouver (RCMP).

According to the AFP news agency, RCMP Sgt Janelle Shoihet stated that rescuers had not yet established the number of inhabited vehicles lost in the avalanche.

Kathie Rennie, a motorist, told reporters she observed the landslide come crashing down on traffic south of Lillooet, which was already at a standstill.

“As soon as we get back into our cars, the folks in front of us start screaming and fleeing,” she explained. “Their expressions were as though a tsunami was approaching. It was the most terrifying sight I’d ever seen.

“I’ve just turned around and am witnessing the entire edge of the mountain come crashing down, destroying these automobiles and sweeping everything away. Complete and utter terror.”

Rob Fleming, the provincial minister of transportation, said it was the “worst weather storm in a century” at a press conference. Mike Farnworth, the minister of public safety, stated that the storm was “without a doubt” connected to climate change.

Thousands of residences in British Columbia were evacuated after a “atmospheric river” dropped the region’s monthly rainfall average in only 24 hours. An “atmospheric river” is a lengthy strip of moisture in the atmosphere that transfers water from tropical regions to the poles.

On Monday, all 7,000 inhabitants of Merritt, which is roughly 120 miles north of Vancouver, were told to leave their homes.

On Tuesday, it snowed there, and automobiles were spotted floating in ice flood waters around town.

Helicopter teams were also dispatched to Agassiz, a mountain village, to rescue roughly 300 people stuck on a cut-off road.

By Tuesday afternoon, the rains and winds from Monday had mostly passed, but numerous villages remained stuck. Residents in the Sumas Prairie and Yarrow neighborhoods in Abbotsford were ordered to evacuate immediately on Tuesday because increasing flood levels posed a “serious risk to life.”

Mayor Henry Braun responded, “You must leave now.” “Nothing in this world is worth your life. It’s possible that tomorrow morning will be too late.”

A section of the Trans-Canada Highway, which connects Vancouver to the rest of Canada, was flooded.

The Coquihalla Highway, which connects Vancouver to the province’s interior, looked to have crumbled under the weight of flooding.

The major land route out of Vancouver used to be to reach the United States and then return to Canada. However, re-entering Canada from the United States needs a negative coronavirus test, and the storm also wreaked havoc on Washington’s highways.

Because of the flooding and landslides, the port of Vancouver, Canada’s biggest, was forced to restrict all rail access, delaying supplies of food, gasoline, and other necessities.

According to the Reuters news agency, the port transfers roughly C$550 million ($440 million) worth of goods per day. As a precaution, all fuel pipes in the vicinity have been shut down.

Although the influence of climate change on storm frequency is unknown, we do know that rising sea surface temperatures warm the air above, making more energy available to generate hurricanes, cyclones, and typhoons. As a result, with more severe rainfall, they are likely to be more intense.

Since the beginning of the industrial period, the planet has warmed by around 1.2 degrees Celsius, and temperatures will continue to rise unless governments throughout the world drastically reduce emissions.

Last summer, British Columbia saw a record-breaking heat wave that killed over 500 people and resulted in wildfires that devastated an entire town.

Cedric Blackwater
Cedric Blackwater
Cedric is a journalist with over a decade of experience reporting on local US news, and touching on many global topics. He is currently the lead writer for Bulletin News.

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