01/04/2012 10:26 EST | Updated 03/05/2012 05:12 EST

West Coast storm cancels some ferries

The heavy rain and high winds hitting the West Coast forced the cancellation of some ferry routes and the closure of some highways on Wednesday morning.

Environment Canada is forecasting the subtropical weather system will bring up to 30 to 70 millimetres of rain to the South Coast, and high winds to the North Coast on Wednesday.

Early Wednesday morning BC Ferries cancelled sailings on the Comox-Powell River Route and on the Port Hardy-Bella Bella-Prince Rupert Route. The Prince Rupert to Queen Charlotte Islands route was also operating on a modified schedule.

In Northern B.C. Highway 37 was closed in both directions at the Ningunsaw Pass because of the avalanche risk. Highway 37A was also closed from the Alaska border to the Meziadin Junction because of an avalanche.

The B.C. River forecast Centre has also issued several warnings and alerts for Vancouver Island. River levels are forecast to peak by early Wednesday afternoon.

- Flood Warning: Zeballos River.

- Flood Watch: Tsolum River (Courtenay) and West Vancouver Island.

- High Streamflow Advisory: Central and North Vancouver Island.

Low-lying residents of Courtenay on Vancouver Island were warned to brace for possible flooding.

The city says BC Hydro issued a flood alert, advising residents that the Puntledge River could burst its banks — and water levels could stay high until at least Thursday.

Heavy rains, rising freezing levels and the potential for storm surges from high tides and winds, have combined to increase the flood risk.

Meanwhile, the avalanche danger rating for the Northwest Coastal regions was rated extreme. On the South Coast the avalanche danger rating was high on Wednesday morning.

Three people have been killed in avalanches in B.C. so far this season.