Furthermore, Weather Network Meteorologist Tyler Hamilton identified this exact worst case scenario for flash floods and slides, the morning of November 14th from his twitter account.
He had already forecast abnormally high rainfall, warned again that the atmospheric river would stall and funnel into the Fraser Valley and said he didn’t know how BC would escape a major flood event. On the 13th he warned it would be close to monthly average rainfall in 48 hours for some people. And as early as the 11th he was showing that not only was the event an atmospheric river, it was a pineapple express as well, which is the deadly combination that melts snow at elevation as intense rainfall occurs, doubling the amount of water flowing downstream.
Clearly if a Weather Network meteorologist can see the signs of a problem brewing before it actually becomes a threat to life and infrastructure, both BC Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Transportation should be able to. Particularly with respect to the Coquihalla, because their own reports identified risk more than 10 years ago. If they couldn’t see forecast what Tyler did, one has to ask why.
A 2010 BC Ministry of Transportation report identified the exact worse case scenario that occurred last weekend in BC, as a large risk to at least one section of the Coquihalla highway, which resulted in complete failure and washout of several sections. The entire report can be read here https://www2.gov.bc.ca/assets/gov/driving-and-transportation/environment/climate-action/hwy5_coquihalla.pdf , but I have screenshot some of the key pages below for you.
It’s interesting to note that BC Chief Engineer Dirk Nyland was part of the team on this report. He is still with the current government.
Who knew we had reached the conditions written about with a pineapple express on the Coquihalla Sunday morning ? ( and perhaps earlier. It would be interesting to see the hour by hour weather record for the summit to see exactly when and at what elevation the snowmelt Tyler Hamilton reported online, actually began)
Currently the BC government has a series of electronic weather monitors, instruments and cams that keep track of road conditions, but it is not clear from this web page or not who is the actual person for it, or for reporting high risk conditions like the ones that occurred Saturday night and Sunday morning.
And would that person know that snowmelt combined with heavy rain equals floods? They should. Tyler mentioned there was unusually high snowpack early this year, meaning more to melt as temperatures rose and rainfall accumulated. I’m surprised Dirk Nyland didn’t take a look and say ” Hey guys we might have a problem here.”
Between the information forecast by Weather Networks Tyler Hamilton, and this 2010 report from the Ministry of Transportation, its pretty hard for either Public Safety Minister or Premier Horgan to say they had no idea these kinds of ” unprecedented ” events were coming or would be this bad, or that they couldn’t have done more. It’s all on paper. The signs were there, its just a matter of when the snow began melting up in the mountains….
Perhaps Farnworth or Horgan could not have done more on their own, but its clear someone in government could have.
When it is the provincial government who monitors and maintains the highways, and maintains the road cams, the weather monitoring stations at the peak of the Coquihalla and makes the call weather to close roads or not under their jurisdiction, it is ridiculous to point fingers to local authorities and smaller communities who do not have the funds or access to monitor the conditions uphill or upstream of them.
Is the weather monitoring system working the way it should? Was the Coquihalla drainage ever upgraded to account for climate change and logged clear cut slopes above and around them? Who failed to see an early snowfall accumulation that was melting with warm temps and heavy nonstop rain was going to cause floods that would take out so much of the highways, flood cities and cause massive slides? Because the evidence was all there.
This is the text of a portion of Premier Horgans public address yesterday
I don’t who keeps briefing him on how to respond at these pressers, but they gave him quite a bit of incorrect information here. If he had someone write this for him, they should be fired. Because if there is one report on climate risks to infrastructure that were identified 10 years ago, there are more. And for the BC Liberals to make hay on this, asking why the government didn’t do more – which isn’t a bad or wrong question to ask – someone should be asking Shirley Bond, Todd Stone and even Kevin Falcon who is trying to be leader again, what exactly did their government do after this report was issued? All of those people were transportation ministers at one time or another. Each deserves a hard look at what and how they managed the highway assets and weather monitoring, as do the current government and ministers.
There was even futher work done on atmospheric rivers, how they will impact BC and how communities should be preparing, in 2014. Who was in government then ? The BC Liberals. https://www.pacificclimate.org/sites/default/files/publications/Atmospheric_Rivers-Final.pdf
Not only were impacts identified of atmospheric rivers, there was an action plan given to address readiness and ensure better weather monitoring, forecasting and modelling.
I don’t want to ever hear a BC Liberal or BC NDP politician in this province say “We couldn’t have known.” when it comes to climate change. Especially when it comes to atmospheric rivers and pineapple expresses. It’s just not true.
You do know. You just didn’t heed your own governments reports, and you didn’t prepare the way you should have. And you all bear the burden of responsibility and working together now to make it right. Because it will happen again. Might I suggest you start by making Tyler Hamilton your lead forecaster?