Environment Canada is warning of possible flooding and power outages from a massive storm system that is expected to dump a month’s worth of rain on Toronto and the GTA.
A rainfall warning has already been issued for the city of Toronto and much of southern Ontario with 25 to 50 mm of rain expected on Saturday alone.
While the forecast track still shows some room for variability, it looks like the greatest risk at this point is freezing rain. It may last for several hours and cause significant disruptions for parts of the GTA, but that is not the only concern. In addition to the freezing rain threat, heavy rain will lead to flooding issues in both urban areas and in our creeks and rivers. Warnings and watches are already in effect for much of the regions.
The most significant impact of the storm will arrive late Saturday. Non-essential travel may want to be postponed due to the rapidly changing weather conditions.
Toronto Region’s Conservation Authority says the system appears to be very widespread.
Senior Manager of Flood Risk Management Rehana Rajabali says, “Our municipal partners … are out there clearing catch basins and undertaking their preparedness planning… Fortunately with a system like this, we’re expecting to see the rainfall and we have had a little bit of notice.”
Rajabali added they expect the water levels in rivers to be very high and will be flowing fast.
Below is a snapshot of what we could be facing this weekend in the various areas around southern Ontario.
The heavy rain potential may lead to flooding in parts of the city. Flood outlooks and flood watches have been issued for the waterways around the area. We are expecting nearly two winter-time months worth of precipitation. Forecasts are hinting at anywhere from 50-100 millimetres across southern Ontario this weekend. For context, January averages 51.8 millimetres of total precipitation and February 47.7 millimetres.
Winds are also expected which, when combined with significant ice accretion on trees and hydro lines, could lead to widespread power outages that could last for several days. Wind gusts are expected reach a range of 60-90 km/h Saturday night into Sunday morning.
“As a forecaster, I can’t stress enough that this system still has a lot of variables and will likely play out differently than the forecast models are suggesting. The best thing you can do [is] prepare for the worst case scenario. Don’t necessarily expect it to be the worst case, but at least be prepared for it.”
– Meteorologist Adam Stiles
Having an emergency kit at the ready for events like this is strongly recommended. Below are some of the basic items should be in that kit.