Toronto remains under a rainfall warning as officials continue to monitor the potential for flooding on the Toronto Islands, major road arteries and low-lying areas impacted by rising water levels.
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) has issued a flood watch as the rainfall amount is expected to reach up to 70 millimetres by Saturday evening when the weather system begins to taper off.
There are concerns the rain will affect the Don River and adjacent transportation routes as the watercourses are still rising and have yet to peak.
“The higher lake level has reduced the channel capacity that results in a potential for flooding of roads and trails along streams and rivers including the Bayview Avenue extension and the Don Valley Parkway and low-lying areas,” the TRCA said in its flooding advisory.
Global News Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell said the amount of rainfall in the next couple of days will amount to an entire May’s worth of rain.
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“The other problem of course is that April was so wet — 100 to 150 millimetres of rainfall — so the ground is saturated, there’s nowhere for the water that falls to go except for in rivers and lakes and eventually into Lake Ontario so this is a problem … for the entire month of May it looks like we’re going to be near record water levels,” Farnell said.
Lake Ontario water levels will likely break a record set in 1973 and high winds could lead to large waves on the water surface.
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Farnell said the combination of high water levels and soil erosion could also lead to property flooding of homes on the Toronto Island.
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“This is a different set up than a flash flooding situation that you would get with severe thunderstorms that sit over an area,” he said.
Toronto school affected by flooding fears
Flooding concerns have forced the Toronto District School Board to relocate staff and students from the Island Public School to Nelson Mandela Park PS on Friday.
Reduced Service on Toronto Islands
Ferry service and access to Toronto Island Park has been restricted to residents, staff and emergency personnel.
Meanwhile, service to Centre Island and Hanlan’s Point has been cancelled.
However, Ward’s Island Park ferry service continues to operate on its spring schedule. Also, a ferry will be stationed at Ward’s Island each night to provide shelter and transportation if needed.
The scheduled opening of Centreville Amusement Park this weekend has also been delayed.
Residents living on the Islands are being told that evacuation procedures are in place if the water reaches dangerous levels.
“We live on Algonquin, right in the middle of it. We’re on slightly higher ground. There’s no issues for us,” Toronto Island resident Brian Henniger told Global News.
“It’s the people living on the lower lying properties on Ward’s Island and the main road is only a little big above the water so that’s going to be a problem probably in a few days.”
Possible Closure of Don Valley Parkway
Officials are warning the public that the rising or fast-moving water can create dangerous conditions. There is also the possibility of flooding on roadways, especially in low-lying areas.
City officials said they are preparing to possibly shut down the Don Valley Parkway as of 3 p.m. Friday afternoon.
However, Farnell said that is unlikely to happen as the rain is being spread out over the course of several days rather than a “flash flood” event which resulted in DVP closures in the past.
“The water is high, yes, but it’s still about a metre to a metre-and-a-half before it gets over that guard rail and onto the DVP,” Farnell said.
“All of this water is flowing into Lake Ontario, record levels possible there in the next week. Toronto Islands, possible evacuation there. That’s the big story along with the bigger waterways and rivers that are going to crest in the days ahead.”
Delays and Flight Cancellations at Pearson Airport
Toronto Pearson International Airport is experiencing delays and cancellations due to the weather with close to 200 flight disruptions by noon on Friday.
The delays are also being compounded by a runway revamp which won’t be complete until mid-May.
Travelers are being reminded to check their flight status before arriving at the airport.
The 2017 Manulife Paddle the Don scheduled for Sunday, May 7 has been cancelled due to unsafe conditions in the Don River.
“We are unwilling to compromise the safety of the more than 700 paddlers expected to take part in the event,” organizers said in a statement.
“While this decision was a difficult one to make, we are confident is the right one in light of the heavy rainfall expected to impact Toronto through Saturday.”
This is the first time in the event’s 23-year history that the paddle has been cancelled.
Risk of Basement Flooding
Localized flooding may mean a troubling couple of days for some homeowners living near or at high risk areas.
If flooding occurs, city officials are telling residents to call 311 as Toronto Water crews are available 24/7 to respond to concerns.
Preventative measures can also be taken to keep basements dry such as clearing catchbasins and eavestroughs and by moving valuable objects away from the floor.
It’s also a good idea to reduce water usage to prevent the sewer system from being overwhelmed.