The rain that pounded much of Vancouver Island Thursday was the result of a stalled weather system dropping record amounts of precipitation, according to Environment Canada.
From midday Wednesday until Thursday evening, 56 millimetres of rain fell at Victoria International Airport, besting a one-day record of 27 mm that dates back to Jan. 3, 1936.
“It was really the nature of the lack of the speed of the system that contributed to the rainfall,” said Carmen Hartt, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.
While it may have felt like there was a chill to the air, temperatures were considerably mild, Hartt said. In Greater Victoria it reached a maximum of 9 C; the historical average for Jan. 3 is 6.5 C.
The torrential downpour caused flooding across the Island.
In the Comox Valley a boil water advisory is in effect. Goldstream River in the West Shore saw increased water levels washing out trails and flooding Finlayson Arm Road. Roads in Cowichan were closed due to mud and water and the Parksville region battled flooding. Central Saanich Police reported at least three different stretches of road closed to traffic Thursday evening due to heavy rain.
Much of the flooding, Hartt said, was because the ground became so saturated with rain coming down so quickly. At the Malahat highway station, 120 mm of precipitation was recorded.
Did you know in the event of a major rainfall, as a #CSaan resident, we have sandbag material available at Public Works for you? For more tips on staying safe and dry: https://t.co/wKkC9vavgO pic.twitter.com/wkMEcHNdaQ
— Central Saanich (@CSaanich) January 4, 2019
“Rainfall is a bit tricky to prepare for,” Hartt noted. “The big precaution is really in driving. You just really have to slow down and watch out for hydroplaning.”
Still, Hartt characterized it as “a typical bad storm” though the rainfall accumulated in that one 36-hour period is already one-third of what Greater Victoria typically experiences during the month of January (an average of 133 mm).
“It’s pretty impressive,” she said. “Certainly a wet start to the month.”
Looking into the longer range forecast, she added, there will be a return to “more normal conditions” but there is a possibility of another stalled system.
“I would expect more heavy rain events with the current weather pattern.”