An “epic” atmospheric river dumped even more rain on the already-deluged Pacific Northwest and British Columbia over the weekend, causing flooding and landslides, along with damaging wind. Some areas have already seen more than 3 feet of water in the past month and Seattle is virtually certain to see its wettest autumn on record. Extreme precipitation and heatwaves, like the deadly “mass casualty” event the region endured this summer, are among the clearest extreme weather signals of climate change.
At one point, more than 170,000 homes and businesses were without power, and the heavy rains also shut down railroad tracks in and out of Canada’s biggest port in Vancouver. Communities in British Columbia were evacuated, and about 275 people were airlifted from a highway after it was blocked by mudslides. “I definitely heard people screaming for help,” Adam Wuisman, who was driving the section of the highway when a landslide hit, told CBC News (via The Guardian). “It’s kind of helpless to feel like you’re between a very vulnerable mountainside on one side and the Fraser River on the other side. And there’s really nothing you can do about it, but hope nothing comes down on top of you.” (Washington Post $, Axios; Canadian evacuations: The Guardian; Port of Vancouver: Bloomberg $; Climate Signals background: Extreme precipitation increase, Extreme heat and heatwaves, June 2021 PNW heatwave)