BRITISH COLUMBIA

Pineapple Express drenches Vancouver before moving on to central coast of B.C.

01/24/2015 05:04 EST | Updated 03/26/2015 05:59 EDT
VANCOUVER - The Pineapple Express that drenched the Vancouver area is now drifting north, with heavy downpours expected to pummel the central coast of British Columbia.

A rainfall warning for Metro Vancouver was lifted on Saturday afternoon, after up to 98 millimetres of rain pelted parts of the southern coast over the previous 36 hours.

Environment Canada said the front is now moving north toward the central coast, with up to 200 millimetres of rain expected to fall between Saturday afternoon and Monday morning.

Heavy rain caused flooding in many parts of the south coast of B.C. on Friday, including Burnaby, New Westminster, the North Shore and Stanley Park in Vancouver.

At least one charitable organization, the Lookout Society, opened its emergency shelters for the homeless in Burnaby, Surrey and the North Shore.

An Environment Canada forecaster said it's unlikely that Vancouver will break any rainfall records with only 40 millimetres falling at the city's airport. The hardest-hit area was in North Vancouver where 98 millimetres fell.

Greg Pearce said that so-called Pineapple Express fronts are not unusual for B.C., with about two or three reaching the province every winter.

A Pineapple Express results when a strong flow of moist air that originates near Hawaii moves along the western coast of North America, causing heavy downpours.

"It just kind of keeps this strong flow of moist subtropical air pointed right over southern B.C.," said Pearce, adding that the "pineapple" refers to Hawaii.

There's one silver lining for Vancouver residents who recently braved stormy, wet weather. The weather will be unseasonably mild over the next several days, said Pearce.

"With the Pineapple Express pushing north, that will allow this large dome of warm air over California to push up into extreme southern B.C," he said. "We're forecasting near-record temperatures for daytime highs over the next couple days."

The high in Vancouver was 11 degrees on Saturday, while the normal high is 7 degrees, said Pearce. He added there will be low clouds and drizzle over the next few days.

Environment Canada continues to warn central coast residents about possible washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts.

The B.C. River Forecast Centre issued a floodwatch for the Kingcome River in central B.C., which is expected to hit peak levels late Saturday or early Sunday.

(The Canadian Press/CKNW)