Southern Ontario may face more thunderstorms bringing torrential downpours to cities including Toronto, a day after Canada’s most populous city experienced its heaviest one-day rainfall in 76 years.
A low pressure trough is expected to cross southern Ontario early tomorrow, creating conditions favorable for thunderstorms overnight, Environment Canada said in a special weather statement issued at 2:48 p.m. today.
“Some of these storms could contain torrential downpours, damaging winds, and large hail,” the government agency said. The weather statement applies to cities from Windsor, near Detroit, to the Niagara region near Buffalo, New York.
Toronto Hydro-Electric System Ltd. said that “current instability of the electrical system” has prompted the utility to begin rotating blackouts in the city, affecting 50,000 customers, according to a statement. Toronto Hydro is urging customers to conserve energy by turning off lights and appliances and raising air conditioner thermostats to 25 degrees Celsius (77 degrees Fahrenheit) or above.
An additional 20,000 customers in west Toronto are still without electricity after an overnight storm flooded Hydro One’s Manby power station, the utility said. Hydro One expects power to be restored by tomorrow morning.
Yesterday’s storm brought almost 100 millimeters (3.9 inches) of rain to the city center and 126 millimeters to Toronto’s Pearson airport, according to Environment Canada. The storm knocked out power to 300,000 residents and flooded train tracks, subway lines and roadways, delaying workers during the evening commute home.
“It now represents the single rainiest day ever at the airport since records began back in 1937,” Peter Kimbell, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said by phone from Ottawa. “We had one area of thunderstorms moving southward and another area of thunderstorms moving eastward, and they basically merged over Toronto, and the combination was particularly intense.”
GO Transit, the city’s commuter train service, said it’s now operating on all seven train lines and buses across its system, though there are some train delays and cancellations as the city continues its cleanup. GO Transit had flooding on the tracks of its Richmond Hill line yesterday, trapping a northbound train and stranding passengers inside while water poured into the carriages.
One of those stranded in the train, Thornhill resident Angela Sarino, recalled in a phone interview today how she watched as vehicles on a nearby road became submerged, with commuters getting anxious during the ordeal.
“As the water was rising and coming into the train, that’s when you start to think this is pretty serious,” the 40-year-old Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce employee said. “You see this water rising and it’s rising very fast. To sit there and within half an hour see a car completely submerged, you’re thinking ‘is this rain ever going to stop?’”
Authorities used Zodiac inflatable boats to help evacuate the commuters from the powerless, flooded train in an operation that ended early in the morning.
“I know that there were a lot of emergencies last night, but it was pretty disheartening to know you’re about 1,500 people on the train and you had two Zodiacs that were out there helping us,” said Sarino, who got home around 1 a.m.
Subway service between Kipling and Jane stations on the Bloor-Danforth line was suspended as crews worked to drain a flooded substation and return power to that section of track, according to Toronto Transit Commission spokeswoman Milly Bernal. All other subway services are operating. “It’s a little slower than usual between Dundas West and Jane stations,” Bernal said in a telephone interview.
Paul Yeung, senior manager at Royal Bank of Canada, left his downtown office yesterday at 5 p.m., was stuck in a train in a tunnel for 55 minutes and didn’t arrive home until around 9:30 p.m. after having to walk part of the way.
“It was a pretty hairy ride home, but it could have been worse,” Yeung, 39, said in a telephone interview. “On the positive side I got to meet a couple really nice people.”
To contact the reporter on this story: Doug Alexander in Toronto at firstname.lastname@example.org