There is a cool short article in the AV Times this morning.
It includes this iconic picture from the very useful AV Museum archives of flooding of the Somass River along the old River Road.
Unfortunately it’s not clear the exact date, but it does seem to be January 1935. So I went looking at the data for January 1935 at the Beaver Creek station.
They had rainfall on the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th of January of 45, 45 and 14.5, 3 and then 33mm That’s a fair amount in quick succession but not huge. I looked back at December and turns out there was 65mm on December 31st 1934 as well. So it was a very wet New Year!
That would equal 202mm over 6 days. Not quite the scale of the 246mm we received over 4 days, but certainly enough to cause flooding.
But look further in the month and a key difference might come through.
There’s quite a bit of snow on the ground! And indeed, the record for later in January shows what looks to be a cold snap that started not long after the heavy New Year rains!
Peaking on January 20 with a low of -8º C and a snowfall of 88cm in one day (!) followed by 4 days of rain totalling over 50mm and by the end of the month reaching 12ºC and another big chunk of rain!
So it is truly difficult to say whether these pictures are all from the same day or not. I have a feeling though that the picture at the top of the page is from the end of the month long after the huge dump of snow melted and at the end of a very wet month indeed, so unfortunately, the two events seem not really comparable from a weather perspective even if they are from a flooding perspective.
We should remember that before WWII and the Tsunami, the former “Alberni” townsite (now Lower Johnston area of Port Alberni) had much lower banks to the River. River Road was built up at some point to basically be a dyke itself, and then of course “the dyke” at Kitsuksis Creek was built to save those lower reaches. In fact, I am willing to bet much of the historic flooding of old Alberni came not only from the Somass, but from the triple threat of at-capacity Kitsuksis and Rogers creek converging with an angry and full Somass River.
The lesson here perhaps is that we have done well to build our cities to manage the floods that we have historically experienced. The question now is, how will our city do with potentially larger floods of the present and future?
I will be back tomorrow with an outlook for the weekend. It shouldn’t cause flooding like we saw last week, but it’s still a bunch.