Weekly Weather Event -Week of November 19thNovember 19, 2021
An atmospheric river dumped days of heavy rain onto the Pacific Northwest and British Columbia, creating devastating floods throughout the region. The region has had an exceptionally wet autumn, and many locations are already approaching seasonal records. These saturated soils and burn scars from summer wildfires have contributed to massive floods and mudslides, resulting in heavy damage to highways, railroads, and the port of Vancouver. A state of emergency was declared in British Columbia due to the widespread damage, and this is expected to be the costliest natural disaster in Canadian history.
This is not the only severe weather event to impact the Pacific Northwest this year. Over the summer, the region saw record high temperatures that shattered heat records across Oregon and Washington State as well as several Canadian provinces. This heat dome, which brought temperatures well over 100 F, also sparked several wildfires and resulted in hundreds of excess deaths from the heat.
Both events were highly rare occurrences, with the flooding considered a 1-in-100-year storm and the heat dome considered a once in a millennia event. While it is difficult to blame any single event on climate change, severe events become more likely to occur as the world warms. This includes both severe drought and heat events as well as flooding and strong rains.