Rain in forecast means rising water levels in Toronto, agency urges caution

Water levels are high at this storm water pond in Scarborough on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2022. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC - image credit)
Water levels are high at this storm water pond in Scarborough on Tuesday, Jan. 3, 2022. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC - image credit)

Toronto residents are being warned to be careful around rivers, streams and shorelines due in part to rain this week that could cause water levels to rise.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is urging the public to be cautious around all bodies of water because of changing water levels in rivers in the Greater Toronto Area.

Toronto is expected to see rainfall amounts of 10 to 15 millimetres on Wednesday. That amount is on top of the drizzle that fell on Tuesday.

Soil in the region is already saturated in some places and partially frozen in others, and water levels are still receding from rain that fell on the weekend, the TRCA said in a statement on Monday. About 25 to 30 millimetres of rain fell in Toronto on Saturday.

All of this means that increased runoff is expected into river systems, the agency said.

"Please exercise caution around all bodies of water due to changing water levels in rivers. Please alert any children under your care of these dangers and supervise their activities. Please keep children and pets away from slippery and unstable banks," the TRCA said in the statement.

"Avoid all recreational activities in or around water at this time and please exercise caution if you must be around any bodies of water, rivers or streams as well as the Lake Ontario shoreline."

No significant flooding is expected but the agency says all shorelines, rivers and streams in the GTA should be considered hazardous.

"All TRCA rivers within the GTA may experience higher than normal flows and water levels for the next few days. The combination of slippery, unstable banks, and changing water levels could create hazardous conditions in and near rivers or other water bodies," the TRCA said.

Water may pool in low-lying areas that have poor drainage, and people are urged to avoid areas that may have been covered in ice recently or experiencing erosion.

The TRCA's water safety and watershed conditions statement is in effect until the end of Thursday.

Michael Wilson/CBC
Michael Wilson/CBC

Colette Kennedy, meteorologist for CBC Toronto, said the rain will vary in intensity in the GTA on Wednesday.

"Although not currently included in any rainfall warnings, it is important to note that heavier and more organized rain will develop for the GTA for a few hours early Wednesday morning, and then with more intensity again Wednesday evening," she said.

For cottage country, the heavier bouts of rain are forecast for Wednesday afternoon and evening, she added.

Parts of southern Ontario under rainfall warnings

Meanwhile, rainfall warnings remain in effect on Tuesday for a number of regions in southern Ontario, stretching from Hamilton and Niagara to Chatham-Kent and Windsor.

Environment Canada said rain is expected to continue into Tuesday night, with 15 to 25 millimetres forecast in southwestern regions such as Windsor, Sarnia and London.

The weather agency said southeastern regions such as St. Catharines, Hamilton and Brant County could see the rainfall last until Wednesday evening.

Flooding could occur in theses areas, Kennedy said.

"Ground is either frozen or saturated at this point so additional rain after all the recent snow melt can quickly lead to flooding conditions."