B.C. may be a prime target for increased flooding from rain on snow events

Researchers are tracking the impact of more frequent atmospheric rivers on an already vulnerable landscape in Western Canada.

Atmospheric rivers are becoming more and more common in B.C. as the climate changes due to human-caused global warming. These heavy rain events are predicted to become more frequent, intense, and longer lasting, leading to higher risk of floods.

“High rainfall intensity, snow sitting on the ground,… high elevation, warmer temperature, higher relative humidity: all of these factors combined to produce what we know on the coast here are some of the largest, most devastating flood events,” Dr. Younes Alila, professor of Forest Hydrology at the University of British Columbia, told The Weather Network.

Alila and other scientists are now trying to figure out exactly what that could mean for the most complex form of hydrology, rain on snow, as many of these atmospheric river events coincide with seasonal snowfall.

Researchers warn that B.C. may be much worse off than other parts of the world, due to the impact of clearcut logging, among other factors. But there are models for how to mitigate the flooding potential, such as reforestation efforts practiced in Europe.

Watch the above video for more on the impact of atmospheric rivers in B.C.

Thumbnail image: (Video still/Storyblocks)