An intense low-pressure system brought an atmospheric river of water vapor and torrential rains to southern British Columbia and northwestern Washington state on Monday, generating devastating flooding that virtually isolated the city of Vancouver from the rest of Canada. The floods came less than five months after the most extreme heat wave in global history affected the same region, fueling destructive wildfires.

Flooding and landslides from Monday’s storm cut the three main highways connecting the city of Vancouver, located on the Pacific coast, with the interior portions of Canada. Damage to some of these highways was extreme, and will result in months-long closures. In addition, all rail access to Vancouver was cut by the flooding, with closures expected to last days or weeks. These closures may have significant impacts on the Canadian economy, since the Port of Vancouver is the largest port in Canada, and fourth-largest in North America. Canada is one of the world’s largest grain exporters, and the flood damage will interrupt exports of wheat and vegetable oil, potentially causing a rise in global food prices, which are already at a 46-year high.

Over 10 inches of rain in 24 hours

On Monday, a large swath of southern British Columbia recorded four to 10 inches of rain in 24 hours, setting numerous records for most precipitation in a day. One of the highest 24-hour amounts observed was 11.59 inches (294.3 millimeters) in Hope, British Columbia.

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