B.C. floods: Abbotsford got 540 mm of rain in November, shattering previous record

With a large portion of the City of Abbotsford still underwater Wednesday, monthly precipitation totals confirmed what was easy to see on the ground: The city got a historic amount of rain last month.

Approximately 540 millimetres of rain fell on Abbotsford in the month of November, Mayor Henry Braun said at a news conference Wednesday afternoon.

"For those of you that are of my generation, that's just over two feet of water layered over our entire city," Braun said.

The total for the month was 99 millimetres higher than the previous record, according to Armel Castellan, warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment and Climate Change Canada.

"(It's) a huge departure from the previous record," Castellan said.

Braun said the November rainfall total equates to roughly one-third of the amount of precipitation Abbotsford typically sees over the course of an entire year.

Much of that rainfall has ended up in Sumas Prairie, the eastern portion of which has been underwater since the devastating atmospheric river that struck the province in mid-November.

Floods aren’t the only concern stemming from the recent heavy rain and saturated ground. A townhouse complex off Whatcom Road on Lower Sumas Mountain is dealing with the aftermath of a landslide on the weekend, which stopped short of a row of homes.

Resident Colin Lundrigan said those units remain on evacuation order for now, while others are on alert.

“We need to be ready to leave at any moment,” he said. “We thought we were in a pretty good position, but clearly that isn’t the case for anyone living in British Columbia at this time, and particularly not in the Fraser Valley.”

He said concern also remains about how more rain could impact a large boulder near the top of the slope.

“We’ll just hope that Mother Nature cooperates ... and we secure what’s above us here, and we can kind of get through this before the colder weather comes,” he said, and added work crews and volunteers have helped with clearing debris and sandbagging.

“We’ve hopefully dodged a bullet here, and are far better off than so many other families. We just have to be thankful at least so far the damage has been minimal and steps are now being taken to remedy the situation.”  

On Wednesday, Braun reiterated that the former Sumas Lake, which makes up the eastern portion of the prairie, would likely remain flooded "for weeks."

Other areas - including Vye and Whatcom roads and a portion of Highway 1 through the city - will drain sooner, but the mayor said there's no exact timetable for when they'll reopen.

"I don't have a projection for when that will be," Braun said. "I'm hoping it's days."

The mayor singled out those three roads as essential to allowing the city to begin helping evacuated residents return home.