Heavy rain drenches parts of the Greater Toronto Area causing flash floods, blackouts
Tuesday, July 9, 2013, 1:50 -
The Toronto region is facing a major clean-up after one of the worst downpours on record hit the city Monday night.
126 mm of rain was reported at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, beating the previous daily rainfall record of 121.4 mm set back in 1954, when Hurricane Hazel hit.
Monday's rainfall totals also smashed the monthly average for July.
"Pearson airport has reported 90, yes 90 mm of rain in past 2 hours [between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.], more than 1 month's worth," tweeted The Weather Network's chief meteorologist, Chris Scott Monday night.
The late afternoon storm caused massive power outages, flooded numerous highways and streets and shut down the entire subway system at one point.
According to the City of Toronto, services will gradually resume Tuesday.
"City crews and the City's Emergency Operations Centre have been working closely throughout the night with Toronto Hydro and the TTC to manage impacts to residents and restore services to residents as quickly as possible after yesterday's intense rainfall," the city stated on its website.
About 1,400 people were caught by the flooding aboard a northbound GO Transit train (at Bayview and Pottery Rd.).
It took police and firefighters about seven hours to ferry everyone to dry ground aboard small inflatable boats.
Steve Harvey, the GO Transit manager of transit safety, said they got everyone off the train as quickly as they could.
”The emergency rescue workers were doing as best they could with the boats that we had. We could only fit so many people in a boat at a time and we tried to do it as fast and as safe as we could.”
Ambulance officials at the scene said five or six people were treated for minor injuries and did not need to be taken to hospital.
GO Transit said the storm left portions of track "completely under water" on its Milton, Richmond Hill and Lakeshore West lines and suggested passengers seek alternative ways to travel Tuesday morning.
"Obviously, we‘re going to have some service disruptions as a result of the flooding and as a result of the washout we had on the Lakeshore West service as well," said Harvey. "We're asking customers to keep into the GO Transit website for the updates."
Toronto’s subway service was temporarily halted Monday evening, but service had resumed on most of the system by early Tuesday.
However, there was no subway service in the west end of the east-west line (between Kipling and Jane) due to the flooding. Shuttle buses were operating in both directions.
The flooding also caused a full closure of the city’s north-sound Don Valley Parkway on Monday evening, but both northbound and southbound lanes were re-opened in time for the morning rush hour.
FLOOD WATCH IN THE TORONTO REGION: Tune into The Weather Network on TV as we continue to bring you the latest details and updates on the flood situation.
Power gradually restored
Utility crews were still at work Tuesday morning trying to restore electricity to thousands of customers left in the dark by flood-related blackouts.
Hydro One said that at the height of the power outage, about 300,000 people in the west end of the Greater Toronto Area were without power due to "significant flooding" at two transmission stations.
The utility said although 30,000 to 40,000 people had their power restored, the amount of flooding was impacting its ability to complete the repairs. Hydro One said it was not clear how quickly power would be restored.
By Tuesday afternoon, only a handful of Mississauga residents were still without power. Powerstream said all of its customers north of Toronto who were blacked out all had their power back prior to midnight.
Despite power being restored quickly to many homes, Mayor Rob Ford says the system is "hanging by a thread" and is urging residents to turn off all non-essential electronics. Ford is commending emergency response personnel for their work but has asked the city manager to launch a full review to see how the city could improve its procedures during emergencies.
Toronto Hydro will be conducting rotating blackouts to reduce load on Hydro One's feed lines. This is needed to get full power back up.— MikeTN (@mikeinthebkgdTN) July 9, 2013
Impact on air travel
Air travelers were also affected during Monday's storm.
Porter Airlines tweeted at about 7 pm that it had cancelled all flights out of the city’s downtown airport for the rest of the evening due to power outages in the terminal.
Flooding even claimed Pearson airport's website offline, as its computer server room got soaked by flooding.
Pearson Airport officials said the airport will be fully operational on Tuesday, but operations will be slower than normal.
The roof and one wall of an Etobicoke warehouse appears to have collapsed during Monday's torrential rain. Emergency crews are on the scene.
Toronto and Region Conservation issued a flood warning Monday evening due to higher than normal water levels, which resulted in dangerous conditions.
TRCA cancelled the flood warning early Tuesday, but officials say residents should still exercise caution, especially with additional rainfall expected through Wednesday.
"With rivers and streams already at higher than normal levels due to recent record rainfall, forecasted rainfall amounts will result in water levels in rivers and streams remaining elevated over the next two days," officials warn. "Drivers should exercise extreme caution and avoid driving through water on low lying areas and roadways, particularly at underpasses...Please alert any children under your care of these dangers and supervise their activities."
In the event of basement flooding, residents can call the City of Toronto at 311 to report a blocked basement drain or sewer back-up. Officials are advising homeowners to also call their insurance company as soon as possible to report any property damage caused by flooding.
"Be mindful of your health and safety when cleaning up a flooded basement - do not stand in flood water, call a professional for assistance," officials say.
More information about basement flooding is available on the City of Toronto's website at http://www.toronto.ca/water/
To see more dramatic photos and videos of Monday's flood, check out The Weather Network's online gallery.
You can also check out an incredible collection of Monday's floods through social media.
With files from The Canadian Press