Near-record rainfall caused localized flooding in Port Alberni on Friday, Sept. 17, forcing road closures in some areas.
Third Avenue between Dunbar Street and Bute Street was closed for a few hours due to flooding. Fourth Avenue between Burde Street and Napier Street was also blocked off, and traffic was detoured around these areas. Several businesses on lower Third Avenue were forced to sandbag their entrances. Others, like the Port Pub on Argyle Street and the Attic Thrift Shop on Johnston Road were forced to close due to flooding.
A rain gauge at Maquinna Elementary School in Port Alberni registered 137 millimetres of rain in a 24-hour period, the “rainiest September day ever,” said Chris Alemany of AlberniWeather.ca. “It is just shy of the most rain ever recorded in the Alberni Valley,” which was 141mm at McCoy Lake on Nov. 30, 1958, he added.
Alemany, who also has a rain gauge at his home in south-central Port Alberni, recorded his largest one-day rain total since 2005 on Friday with 102.9mm. “April, May, June, July (and) August this station measured 106.2mm ( 79mm in April/May),” he noted.
“The next largest was the great storm of Nov. 14, 2006 (81mm).”
The heavy rain was part of a “robust” frontal system of rain and strong winds that hit B.C.’s south coast on Friday. Environment Canada had predicted inland areas of Vancouver Island would receive between 60 and 80 millimetres of rain in a 24-hour period.
The localized flooding in Port Alberni was not caused by infrastructure failure, said Clinton Wright, manager of operations for the City of Port Alberni. Just a lot of rain. An Environment Canada Twitter page dedicated to Port Alberni weather noted that between 2–6 p.m. the Alberni Valley received 66.8mm of precipitation.
“The volume of water is overwhelming our natural waterways and crews are working on sandbags around buildings on Third Avenue,” Wright said. “We have a crew of 12 out in support.”
— WX Port Alberni (@ww_portalberni) September 18, 2021
During heavy rain events sand and sandbags are made available at three locations: the City of Port Alberni public works yard (4150 Sixth Avenue, in the parking lot near Roger Street); Harold Bishop Firehall (7667 Pacific Rim Highway) in Sproat Lake and Beaver Creek Firehall (6038 Beaver Creek Road). People needing sandbags are asked to bring their own shovels.
The heavy rain follows a two-month dry spell for the Alberni Valley, with very little precipitation in September until now.