Friday, August 19, 2005

For those of you who weren't in Toronto today...

I heard on the news tonight that there was at least one F2 tornado today and they are expecting more bad weather tomorrow. It was like a monsoon here today.

It was Toronto’s version of the perfect storm. And it came down during the height of the afternoon rush Friday.

A torrential rain caused chaos across the city, as lightning, thunder, golf ball sized hail and high winds all converged on the G.T.A. to leave flooding in its wake.

In some areas, the rain fell so hard and so fast, sewers couldn’t contain all the water. Many drivers, heading home in the thick of it, actually had to be rescued from their vehicles after the roads turned into rivers.

Hail poured down on the 404 and Finch area. Lightning strikes scared motorists near Yorkdale Shopping Centre at the 401 and Dufferin. At Bathurst and Steeles, some cars were nearly underwater, as the H20 hammered down without end.

"I don't think there has ever been a flood like this that I remember,” proclaims one driver as he stands knee deep in the rain out of his drenched and flooded automobile.

“I'm waiting for my tow truck,” sighs Kevin Fernandez, still dry inside his becalmed car at Kennedy and Highway 7. "It's going to be here in an hour.”

But drivers weren’t the only ones that were out. So was the hydro in areas all over the city. Some trees also went down during the force of the storm. “I heard a tremendous crack and saw the tree topple over,” recalls bemused homeowner Len Gasparini.

A large section of the D.V.P., from Don Mills to the Gardiner and the Gardiner to Bloor northbound, has been closed by flood waters.

Some banks had to shut down early when the waters entered the buildings. The Woodbine Centre had to close its doors for the day, after the first floor was flooded out.

And Seneca College at Finch and the 404 cancelled all summer school exams because of water on the campus. They'll resume on Monday.

And you flooded us with email, showing us the extent of flooding in areas from Brampton all the way to North York. The one top left at Bathurst and Steeles shows just some of the aftermath.

At Pearson International Airport, flights were delayed or cancelled and grounds crews were called inside to wait out the worst of it. If you have a flight to catch, check with your airline or look up its status here.

Some GO buses have been delayed and track flooding led to the cancellation of the 7:40pm Union Station to Richmond Hill train.

The C.N.E. opened Friday, and in some rare bad luck, its first day came amid drenching downpours. Officials were forced to hit the midway with bullhorns during the thick of the disturbance telling patrons to take cover quickly.

Operations have since resumed and all the rides are back on, as experts stay in touch with Environment Canada.

And we got off easy. Despite warning tornadoes could hit the city, only one twister was actually spotted in Ontario - and it came down near Stratford, causing extensive damage.

The unsettled weather will remain until at least Saturday and will be accompanied by an old friend – high humidex values.

The first day of the weekend promises a return to the sticky conditions, with temperatures near 30C feeling closer to 40. And if you thought Friday was loud, just wait.

“There is a weak cold front coming through … and the air mass we're in is very, very humid, moist, and unstable,” explains CityNews Environment Specialist Harold Hosein. “So the collision between the two air masses is producing this first set.

"[Saturday] is likely to be a little more active, more widespread and more intense because there is much cooler drier air to the west side of this system and a bigger collision will occur tomorrow afternoon.”

Much of the G.T.A. woke up to the sound of thunder early Friday and it rumbled through the rest of the day. At least 100 millimetres of precipitation is believed to have already fallen in Brampton and more could be coming.

And while we certainly need the rain, we may not have wanted it on one of the last remaining weekends of the summer.

Still, all is not lost. Things will clear out by Sunday, when it will be noticeably cooler, with a mix of sun and cloud.

For more on the weather, current conditions and to check the radar updated every 10 minutes, click here.

Safety Tips After A Major Storm

  • Listen to your radio for road reports and weather information and follow instructions.

  • Give first aid to people who are injured or trapped. Get help if necessary.

  • Stay away from all waterways and be watchful of children and pets.

  • Drive cautiously and only if necessary. Approach puddles slowly. Do not drive through deep water. Keep your fuel tank at least half full at all times. Give way to emergency vehicles.

  • Stay away from damaged areas.
  • Do not go near loose or dangling power lines. Report them and any broken sewer and water mains to authorities.
  • Leave telephone and cell phones free for official use. Only use them for Emergencies.


Jennifer said...

P.S. I only have to block 3 blocks in all to get home from work if I take the subway and by the time I got home tonight I was as wet as if I'd gone swimming in my work clothes. It came through my raincoat.

jane said...

man, that's intense... we've been getting some storms, but nothing that major. Tornado-madness! poor Stratford.