Another atmospheric river brings risk of flooding to Washington, British Columbia

SPOKANE, Wash.– Another set of atmospheric rivers, narrow bands of tropical moisture, is set to arrive in the Pacific Northwest beginning on Thanksgiving. An atmospheric river event over the weekend of November 14th led to severe flooding in British Columbia and northeast Washington. The same areas hit hard by this flooding will see the most rain in the week ahead.

Current rainfall projections show the risk of 6 to 10 inches of rain in Canada by next Wednesday with between 3 and 6 inches in the North Cascades in Washington and 8 to 10 inches on the Olympic Peninsula. More than 10 inches of rain is likely in the next week on Vancouver Island.

Us Canada Border Towns Assess Damage From Devastating Floods

Darryl Dyck

Recreational vehicles and trucks burn during a fire at a business surrounded by floodwaters in Abbotsford, British Columbia, on Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021.

Us Canada Border Towns Assess Damage From Devastating Floods

Elaine Thompson

Derailed railroad cars sit near flood-damaged tracks at a BNSF rail yard Wednesday, Nov. 17, 2021, in Sumas, Wash. An atmospheric river—a huge plume of moisture extending over the Pacific and into Washington and Oregon—caused heavy rainfall in recent days, bringing major flooding in the area.

Rain from the November 14 atmospheric river dumped 10 inches of rain in 24 hours across western B.C., which set daily rainfall records. At one point all road and railroad connections to the city of Vancouver were severed during the peak of the flooding. Severe flooding came across the border, costing an estimated $50 million in damage in Whatcom County. Further south, the Skagit River at Mt. Vernon almost broke the all-time record high water level. Any flooding, even if it’s far less severe than earlier in this month, will hurt those recovering from its impact.

1 Week Rain totals for areas impacted by mid-november floods

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In the Inland Northwest, these atmospheric rivers mean warm temperatures and rain, not snow, in the mountains. Snow levels are expected to hover between 5000 and 7000 feet for much of the upcoming week. That puts a lot of warmth and possibly rain on the lower slopes of many ski areas; some of which are opening for the season this weekend. The emerging snowpack for this winter took a hit from the last atmospheric river and likely will again as the high elevations continue to stay warm.

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