How Canadian cities would look if they were slammed by Harvey

Jonathan Rumley
A Houston neighbourhood is devastated by in widespread flooding from Tropical Storm Harvey on Aug. 30, 2017. Photo from Brett Coomer/Houston Chronicle via The Associated Press.

Canada isn’t immune to natural disasters. In a country where hurricanes, tornados and earthquakes are relatively rare, flooding does occur from time to time.

In June 2013, more than 200 millimetres of rain in less than 48 hours left parts of Calgary under water. A month after that happened, the Greater Toronto Area was swamped with its own flood as 126 mm of rain was reported at Pearson International Airport and 97 mm came down in the city’s core. This week, thousands of homes in Windsor, Ont., were flooded when parts of the city saw 190 mm of rain.

But all of that pales in comparison to what happened in the Houston area this past week. It was all thanks to a storm named Harvey, a tropical cyclone that was a hurricane and is now a tropical storm. Nearly a week after making landfall, Harvey is still active and it’s wreaking havoc in coastal regions along the Gulf of Mexico, such as Texas and Louisiana.


Some parts of Texas have been hit with more than a metre of rain. That’s nearly eight times the amount of precipitation that fell on Toronto in the hardest hit areas of a storm that made headlines for setting a new rainfall record in the city.

WeatherBell meteorologist Ryan Maue says Texas has already received more than 19 trillion gallons (71.92 trillion litres) as of Tuesday, according to Mashable.

The image below shows a Google Earth simulation what that amount of water would look like if all that water landed on Toronto at one time, resulting in a 90-metre deep flood across the GTA, according to the Weather Network.

This computer-generated flood simulation shows Toronto with the Rogers Centre under water. Photo from Scott Sutherland/Google.

That amount of water would be even more devastating in Montreal, which covers a smaller area than the GTA, resulting in a flood that is 131 metres deep, the Weather Network reports. The photo below shows how a Google Earth simulation of that flood would look like in Ville-Marie.

Most buildings in Montreal would be completely submerged in water in this computer-generated simulation of a flood. Photo from Scott Sutherland/Google.

To put that amount of rain in context, it’s enough to cover all of Alaska, California and Texas in roughly 2.5 centimetres of water, Mashable reports.

The Maryland-based National Centers for Environmental Prediction reports 51.88 inches (1,317.75 mm) of rain fell on Cedar Bayou, Texas. That’s more than 10 times the amount of precipitation that left parts of Toronto reeling for days in 2013.

Fortunately for Texans, that amount of rain came over the course of several days, which lessen the blow, but the end result was still catastrophic.

The Texas Department of Public Safety reports the storm has caused major damage to more than 37,000 homes and destroyed close to 7,000, according to the latest surveys. Damage estimates are reportedly pegged at $40 billion US ($50.1 billion Canadian). As of midday Thursday, the death toll from Harvey had reached 31.

And if you’ve had it with all this news about storms, you may not want to hear that another hurricane is already brewing in the Atlantic. Irma has already become a Category 2 hurricane Thursday, the U.S. National Hurricane Center reports.

The storm has already has winds churning at 100 miles (160 kilometres) per hour and is expected to be “extremely dangerous” as it travels westward across the Atlantic, the weather agency warns, adding no land masses are at risk at this time.