Heat dome! Bomb cyclone! Tornado! Atmospheric river! Apocalypse!
Oops, I guess I got a little carried away with the last one. . .
But, given what’s going on with our weather, piled on top of the pandemic we’ve endured for eighteen months, one can get carried away. It feels like the Apocalypse.
Catastrophe after catastrophe after catastrophe, like the plagues that, according to the biblical record, haunted Egypt. We’ve gotten more than our share of calamity this year, at least in this part of BC.
I live in Abbotsford. As I write this, the highways are closed. Sumas Prairie is flooded; the lake that was drained a hundred years ago to create the most productive farmland in Canada, will quickly return if even one of the four massive pumps that keep it dry, fail, we’re told. At this moment, they’re still working.
Personally, I’m totally safe in Abbotsford.
It’s not just my city, though. Merritt is fully evacuated. Flood waters have immersed the lower parts of the city, at least one bridge is out, the wastewater treatment plant is shut down. They won’t be returning quickly.
I have three rent 2 own properties there. At least one is flooded. With the highway closures–for who knows how long–it’ll be a while before we’ll even get to check that out. Fortunately, we have flood insurance.
The town of Princeton is evacuated, too. On top of the flood calamity, they have no power, no utilities.
In southwestern BC, every major highway is blocked. Thousands of vehicles are stranded between mudslides and highway washouts.
Railways are also blocked. Between the railway and highway closures, supply chains have been cut off, store shelves are emptying, and the effects starting to be felt across Canada.
All this, the result of torrential rain from the “atmospheric river” that descended upon us last weekend—apparently our fourth atmospheric river already since September and, by far, the worst. On Sunday, at least twenty records were broken for one-day rainfall totals.
We’re learning a lot of new terms this year, aren’t we? At the end of June it was the “heat dome” that massively broke record temperatures and led to devastating fires. Who’d heard of a heat dome before? I guess that shows how extreme the event was—first time, perhaps ever, in these parts.
October 25, we got hit with a “bomb cyclone.” Hands up if you’ve heard that before. Atmospheric pressure suddenly dropped to record lows, creating winds that, among other things, caused a freighter to lose over a hundred containers in the Strait of Georgia, with devastating environmental consequences and loss of goods for retailers counting on them for their store shelves.
November 6, an EF0 tornado touched down in Vancouver. Now an EF0 is pretty mild one, and the damage far from catastrophic, but it’s noteworthy that this was the first tornado to touch down in Vancouver in five decades.
What is going on?
Is this a curse on us from the divine, the biblically prophesied Apocalypse? Is this all simply the result of climate change? Is this the consequence of our attempts to control nature, with Nature having the last word on that proposition? Is this unique to us?
I don’t pretend to have the answers. We’ll all ponder these questions in our own ways.
But there is some good news among all this, too: very little loss of human life, heroic efforts by first responders, a generally co-operative public, massive volunteer efforts to assist those trapped in emergency situations, as well as with sandbagging measures to control the flooding.
One thing is clear: the human spirit is resilient. At a time like this, we tend, generally, to pull together. We tend to pitch in and support those needing help.
How many more times will we escape worse tragedy? Will our spirit remain strong?
Only time will tell.