Flash Floods Inundate British Columbia and Egypt

Flash flooding in British Columbia and Egypt

In British Columbia, Canada, deluges left 275 people stranded on Highway 7, and 150 on other highways across the area. Residents of Merritt, a city north of Vancouver, had to evacuate, as flooding inundated two bridges and caused a sewage backup, posing the threat of contamination to those nearby.

Meanwhile, in Aswan, a city in southern Egypt, the country hosting next year's COP, flash flooding has forced thousands of scorpions -- commonly known as the deathstalker scorpion due to its toxic venom -- out of their burrowed habitats and into nearby villages and homes. As of last week, officials had reported 503 scorpion stings.

Why This Matters

These floods -- spanning two continents -- follow a recent first-of-its-kind study that can predict extreme weather events decades in advance. The results show that extreme weather events -- particularly heavy rain -- will continue to become more frequent and severe than we had previously thought. For example, in Glasgow, where COP26 just wrapped up, the study shows that by 2070 there will be 3.5 times as many days with at least 30 mm of rain per hour, which is considered flash flood conditions by the UK. These results suggest that the weather patterns in Egypt and British Columbia may become the new normal if global warming isn't averted.

"Weather Whiplash"

The events this week serve as examples of the "weather whiplash" -- the vacillation between two weather extremes -- that will become increasingly common due to climate change. The city of Abbotsford, British Columbia, recorded its hottest day ever -- 109 degrees Fahrenheit -- in late June; and on Nov. 14, the city had its wettest day ever, with nearly 4 inches of rain in 24 hours. Ten thousand miles away in early August, Egypt was hit with a severe heat wave, and this week the country has been inundated with heavy rain.

Guardian: Catastrophic floods in British Colombia shown in aerial footage, November 17, 2021.

africanews: Egypt floods kill 3, put 500 in hospital with scorpion stings, November 15, 2021.