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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Toronto: The Big Summer Storm!

My regular blog news links + coverage continues below here!

Whew! That was rather exciting. Usually Toronto misses the more adverse weather fronts. While the rest of the province is hot by blizzards, ice, even a tornado or two, we remain unscathed. Not last night! You have probably all ready seen the news: The Gardener + Don Valley Expressway,  Lakeshore Rd. and Highway 427, plus whole large swaths of the city turned into rivers + lakes with water up to the car doors. Power lines down across the GTA, and so on.


Many folks don't realize that Toronto is built around a natural drainage system of ravines. During a bad storm they turn into raging rivers. There are lowlands inside the ravines. Also large sections of flat plains along the city shoreline of Lake Ontario. It's actually a large natural drainage system running down to the lake with plenty of potential city flood areas along the way.

Since Hurricane Hazel's devastating hit in 1954, urban development has been prohibited inside the ravines for just that reason. Yesterday, the rain levels approached if not not surpassed the record levels set then, at least out a Pearson Airport. Still Toronto and the wider outlying city GTA area are not like other parts of the world where cities all but get washed away and lots of people drown during a very bad storm and floods. So in a way you are hearing a whole bunch of big city belly aching I suppose, unless you got trapped in the traffic jam for hours on end, stuck at a subway station, your basement flooded or you stuck at home without power until the wee hours last night.


My photos show what conditions were like here where we live. Compare them with the photos from yesterday morning's blog below. You should be able to readily see the difference. We are in the western part of the city along the Humber River Vally, or ravine, just south of Sheppard Avenue West. The Humber River runs south from here way down to the lake. Our condo tower is built a top the high ground over looking the ravine, except we are also in a bit of a culvert. Every so often the culvert turns into a huge puddle or perhaps a small lake, flooding our yard, maybe the underground parking lot and busy Weston Rd below. Weston Rd is often busy as a highway during rush hour or during other busy times of the day. It gets flooded too where it dips down into the culvert.

Janet was stuck in traffic just outside the Wilson Subway Station parking lot along the Spadina Line and the Allan Expressway. She called to ask what the road conditions were like along the different routes. Most of the t.v. coverage was about the power being out in 80% of Mississauga so I could just check the t.v. cameras along the major traffic routes for a guesstimate. No direction was good. Just as I was calling her back, the power went out. Funny, but unlike in years past, our cellphones and wireless internet hot spot worked but not the landlines. The wireless lines must've been busy too. I texted her the news, before I could finally get through to her cellphone. She finally arrived home about two or three hours later.



Meanwhile I brought our plants out on the balcony + watched the bumper to bumper traffic edging its way southbound on Weston Rd. Northbound was faster. There were about a dozen fire trucks over four or five hours, heading south. I didn't see one car, not one, pull over or even slow down to let them pass. Incredible! I read for awhile sitting on the balcony then had my dinner until the sunset and it grew pitch black. No city lights! When Janet arrived home we lounged on the couch by candle light remembering and laughing about other natural catastrophes + blackouts over the years. Phoning up family + friends to see if everybody was all right. They were. Janet told me all about what it was like downtown when she got out of work. Then we went to bed early. Everything was very cozy and nice. Finally the lights flickered back on in the middle of the night startling us both. I got up to turn them off. That's the last thing I recall until I awoke this morning.

Long + short of it? It was kind of exciting, for us just a summer diversion, and we are all right. It's still overcast but the flood waters, which had reached as close as the outside wall of our building, have receded. City life seems to be returning to normal, and life goes on.


IN THE NEWS

These amazing photos + videos will show you how much worse it was across the city @ Toronto Underwater

Here are some more excellent "you are here" videos, slide show and tweets @ OMG!

A snake slithering aboard flood trapped commuter train is caught on video @ Snake

See photos of the flooded train commuters being rescued in dingie boats. Inquiring minds want to know: Will the City of Toronto pay for ruined dress shoes?!? [Tip o' the hat to Kim Z for that! ;-] @ Dingies to the Rescue!

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