Record rains in Toronto cause nightmare of flash flooding, power outages

Record rains in Toronto cause nightmare of flash flooding, power outages

The Greater Toronto Area is in recovery-mode today, after record-setting rains swept across the area on Monday evening, putting streets under water, leaving thousands without power and stranding hundreds of people on a GO Train for hours.

Monday's rains, measured at 126 mm for the day, set an all-time record for Toronto Pearson Airport, breaking a record that had stood for nearly 59 years. What's more amazing is that this new record was set in just 7 hours, whereas the previous record was set over 22 hours of rain, when Hurricane Hazel hit the city on October 15, 1954.

Toronto City weather station, near Queen's Park, saw slightly less rain, recording 97 mm for the day, while Billy Bishop Airport (on Toronto Island) got 85 mm and the G. Ross Lord Dam (on the Don Valley River) saw 68 mm of rain. Although there's nothing official about these yet, they most likely set daily records for July 8th, if not all-time rainfall records for those stations.

[ Related: Heavy rains cause flash flooding in Greater Toronto Area ]

"We had 90 millimetres of rain within an hour and a half at the airport," Environment Canada meteorologist Peter Kimbell told The Canadian Press.

"It was a bit of a surprise yesterday," he said in the interview. "The [Environment Canada] warning was actually not issued until the storm had begun."

Although in Environment Canada's defense, they had issued a Special Weather Statement for the day, advising of the potential for thunderstorms.

Flooded streets were reported across the metro area, with many streets, including the south end of the Don Valley Parkway, disappearing under water. Many commuters were forced to abandon their vehicles, and hundreds of people aboard a GO Train were stranded for roughly seven hours, as rising waters made it impossible for the train to go anywhere.

According to reports on Twitter, some people tried to wade from the train to dry ground, but were forced to cling to trees to prevent themselves from being swept 'downstream' by the strong current. At one point, apparently, a police van arrived to help get people off the train, but the van ended up floating away.

Emergency workers needed to use small inflatable boats to ferry the trapped commuters from the train in a slow, agonizing process.

"The emergency rescue workers were doing as best they could with the boats that we had," said Steve Harvey, GO Transit's Manager of Transit Safety, according to The Canadian Press. "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."

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The rains are continuing today, throughout southern Ontario, with showers expected all day and more thunderstorms possible this afternoon, but rainfall totals aren't expected to approach what was seen on Monday. However with the flood waters from yesterday only recently receding and the ground still saturated, any significant amount of rainfall could touch off more flooding.

(Photo courtesy: Reuters)

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