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Mudslide closes Duffey Lake Road, flood watch issued for Whistler as rainfall warning remains in effect

With two weeks to go, Whistler is on track to surpass its monthly precipitation average for November by the end of the day
Millar Creek Function Junction Whistler November 15
Millar Creek in Function Junction was running high and fast on Sunday, Nov. 14.

The Duffey Lake Road portion of Highway 99 is closed in both directions Monday after a mudslide occurred 42 kilometres south of Lillooet.

According to Drive BC, the slide is affecting a 44.6-km section of road between Lil'wat Place and Texas Creek Road. There is no detour available and no estimated time of reopening as of 12:30 p.m, Nov. 15. It's the latest in a series of highway closures that have cut off all routes between the Lower Mainland and the Interior (and effectively the rest of Canada) as an atmospheric river continues to pummel Southwest B.C.

As of Monday afternoon, rescue is underway for the 275 people who remain trapped on Highway 7 near Agassiz between mudslides that blocked highway access late Sunday night, while the entire town of Merritt is under an evacuation order due to flooding.

Meanwhile in Whistler, rising river levels have prompted the province's River Forecast Centre to issue a Flood Watch advisory for the Sea to Sky corridor. 

The agency typically issues a flood watch when waterways are approaching or expected to exceed their banks. Flooding of areas adjacent to affected rivers may occur.

No instances of flooding in Whistler have been reported yet, but locals are still warned to stay clear of fast-flowing rivers and potentially unstable riverbanks. Any reports of flooding can be passed along to the Resort Municipality of Whistler (RMOW) by calling 604-935-8300. The RMOW is also offering sandbags to residents, by request. 

rainfall warning also remains in effect for the Sea to Sky corridor as of Monday afternoon.

"This long episode of heavy rain could result in possible washouts, debris flow and pooling water as rising freezing levels will also melt snow at higher elevations. Local river levels will rise and river flows will increase as a result of the heavy rain," Environment Canada warns. 

"Heavy downpours can cause flash floods and water pooling on roads. Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible. Watch for possible washouts near rivers, creeks and culverts."

The storm adds to what's already been a rainy autumn in Whistler, even by Sea to Sky standards. November is typically the wettest month of the year for the resort, with an average of 192 millimetres of rain. Whistler will likely surpass that average by the day's end. The resort has already logged 186.7 mm of total precipitation from Nov. 1 to 14, with 54.7 mm of that falling on Sunday, Nov. 14 alone. That makes yesterday the wettest Nov. 14 on record in Whistler, breaking the previous record of 41.4 mm set in 2017. 

Monday's forecast predicts another 20 to 30 mm of rainfall, at minimum. Flurries are expected to being later this evening, with two to four centimetres of accumulation expected. The rain is expected to clear later on Monday and into Tuesday as the storm passes. 

Whistler also saw 194.5 mm of rain fall throughout October 2021 according to Environment Canada, significantly higher than that month's average of 154 mm.