Pacific north-west floods latest: Canada’s Trudeau deploys air force to ‘terrifically bad situation’ – live. John Horgan says the order will preserve access to services and supplies, establish travel restrictions, and ensure essential goods can be transported, CBC British Columbia reported.
BC premier declares ‘state of emergency,’ says death tolls expected to rise in coming days
Amid flooding in British Columbia, the British Columbia premier has declared a state of emergency and says death tolls are expected to rise in the coming days.
The premier has also said travel restrictions will be imposed and that officials are confident that supply chains impacted by the downpour and mudslides can be restored quickly.
The Guardian’s Hannah Devlin explains more about what an ‘atmospheric river’ is after British Columbia and parts of Washington state experience record rainfall and flooding.
Massive flooding across the region has caused mud slides, cut off several towns from key supplies like food and fuel, and killed one person with several reported missing.
Atmospheric rivers are long, narrow bands of water vapour in the atmosphere that extend from the tropics to higher latitudes, acting like a pipe in the sky. These columns of vapour, typically between 250 and 375 miles wide, move with the weather and can transport up to 15 times the volume of the Mississippi River.
When atmospheric rivers make landfall, they release moisture in the form of rain or snow – and this is often a crucial contribution to water supplies. Precipitation from atmospheric rivers is thought to contribute about 20% of the Earth’s total water flow. In some regions, particularly the east and west coast of North America, south-east Asia and New Zealand, this can be more than 50%.
Officials in British Columbia providence could declare a “state of emergency” due to flooding in the region that has cut off access to the country’s largest port and left thousands stranded, reports Reuters.
“What we’re seeing is a natural disaster,” said provincial Public Safety Minister Mike Farnworth in a briefing late Tuesday. “A province-wide state of emergency is very much on the table.”
Several towns are currently cut off due to flooding and mudslides, with at least one town struggling with limited access to food. In Hope, a town of about 6,000 that is located around 100 miles east of Vancouver, many say that food supplies are limited as flooding has halted any attempts at restocking grocery stores.
“There is not much left in the grocery stores. They just can’t restock, there is no way to get through,” said Jeff Kuhn, a pastor in Hope, to the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Kuhn said that while food is being airlifted in, only about a day’s worth of food remains.
Terrifically bad situation’: Trudeau comments on flooding in BC and deploys Canada’s air force
Canada prime minister Justin Trudeau calls intense flooding in British Columbia a “terrifically bad situation” as Canada moves to deploy its air force to help with aid efforts, with more rain expected, reports Reuters.
While on a trip to Washington, Trudeau said the Canadian government will help regions recover from the flooding, which has killed one person.
Bill Blair, Federal Emergency Preparedness minister, said today that air force personnel will be delivering food, fuel, feed and water to communities currently cut off and running low on supplies due to flooding, telling the Canadian Broadcasting Corp that hundreds of soldiers will be deployed.
Additionally, those deployed will be helping with sandbagging to mitigate flooding.
The Guardian’s Chris Watson, Finbarr Sheehy and Pete Guest provided more information behind what caused intense flooding in the Pacific north-west region months after record-breaking heatwaves.
These weather phenomenons taking place in areas like Abbotsford yesterday are also linked to the global climate crisis, explained further in the report with accompanying visuals.
Scientists who analysed the regional heatwave found that human-caused climate change made the extreme weather at least 150 times more likely. Referring to both the heatwave and the storms, Joe Boomgard-Zagrodnik, an agricultural meteorologist at Washington State University, told NBC this week: “We were super hot and dry in the summer, and the switch flips. It definitely matches what the climate models show for the future around here – hotter, dryer summers and wetter winters.”
As the climate warms scientists expect atmospheric rivers to form in more rapid succession, grow more intense, and become longer, wetter and wider. According to Environment Canada, there have been five atmospheric rivers already this season, which is highly unusual.
The way in which the summer fires exacerbated the winter flooding is an example of a compound climate disaster.
More information has come out about a large fire in the Abbotsford area as flooding presents an additional obstacle to putting out the flames.
Authorities are still working to extinguish the large fire that took place at an RV dealership earlier this morning, with around 100 RVs packed tightly together on fire. There are reportedly about 40 firefighters battling the flames.
New aerial images of flooding in the Abbotsford area demonstrate the severe impact yesterday’s weather had.
The Abbotsford Police Department tweeted out new pictures taken this morning via helicopter of the Sumas Prairie area.
“RCMP’s Air 1 Helicopter has provided a photo of the Sumas Prairie taken this morning. This is an example of the current conditions,” tweeted the police department.
The Syrian musician Omar Souleyman, who has performed at festivals around the world, has been arrested in Turkey on terrorism charges related to alleged membership of the Kurdistan Workers’ party (PKK).
The singer and DJ was taken into custody by officers who searched his home in the south-eastern province of Şanlıurfa, his son Muhammad told a Syrian news outlet on Wednesday. An official in the Şanlıurfa governor’s office confirmed the arrest to the Guardian.
Souleyman, 55, is an Arab Syrian from the majority-Kurdish Hasekeh province, on the border with Turkey. The self-taught musician became famous in his homeland as a prolific wedding performer, and has recorded more than 500 albums in Arabic and Kurdish blending traditional dabke – Middle Eastern folk music – with thumping electronica.
He left Syria after the civil war broke out, after which his freewheeling and gritty love songs turned him into an international star. The 2013 track Warni Warni has had nearly 95m views on YouTube.
Souleyman has worked with Björk, Four Tet, Damon Albarn and Diplo, and has performed at the 2013 Nobel peace prize ceremony and at major festivals across the globe in his trademark dark sunglasses, red chequered keffiyeh and dishdasha.
Souleyman’s son denied the terrorism charges, saying his father had no political affiliations and that a “malicious report” had been filed against him. Souleyman and his assistant could not be reached for comment. A neighbour of the family told the Guardian by phone on Wednesday evening that the musician had not yet returned home.