Experts look at whether Brampton was hit by a downburst
Chris Fox and Sandie Benitah, cp24.com
Published Wednesday, May 29, 2013 5:19AM EDT
Last Updated Wednesday, May 29, 2013 3:53PM EDT
Experts with Environment Canada are taking a look to see what fueled a major storm in Brampton that caused severe wind damage in the area.
Mitch Meredith, a severe weather meteorologist, said it looks like the damage came from a downburst.
“We’re looking at the radar and the site and we think it's a weak downburst that happened,” he told CP24.
He said winds were at least 90 kilometres-an-hour, which is the equivalent of a tornado of the weakest strength on the Enhanced Fujita scale.
“But significant damage has occurred so we are still investigating a few locations in Brampton,” he said.
Heavy rain causes flooding
The city and the Greater Toronto Area saw a significant rainfall overnight.
Coun. Denzil Minnan-Wong, who is also the chair of city’s works and infrastructure committee, told reporters that between 50-and 60 millimetres of rain fell in an about an hour.
Environment Canada had issued a heavy rainfall warning for Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area overnight, warning of rainfall amounts of up to 50 mm overnight.
That warning was lifted at around 5:30 a.m., but at that point the damage had already been done.
The storm caused major headaches for commuters on the Don Valley Parkway.
All lanes in both directions south of the Bloor Street were closed because of major flooding.
The Don River overflowed onto the DVP amid heavy rainfall early Wednesday morning, forcing police to shut down the highway between Bloor Street and the Gardiner Expressway at around 5 a.m.
The southbound lanes then reopened at around 9:30 a.m., but the northbound lanes remain closed until about 10 a.m.
At its peak, the flood water submerged the steel guardrails alongside the highway and crested a barrier that separates the northbound and southbound lanes.
“We have an alarm system on the Don River at Dundas Street that went off at around 3 a.m. that told us there was a big storm coming and that the water was rising,” Minnan-Wong said. “Staff was immediately deployed at around 4 a.m..”
Minnan-Wong said the city was prepared to deal with the situation but the rain came in “microbursts in such volume that can’t (be) controlled.”
The flooding also submerged a stretch of GO Transit track west of the DVP, stalling service to Oriole and Old Cummer stations on the Richmond Hill line.
“This is the worst (flooding) I have ever seen (on the DVP),” Const. Clint Stibbe told CP24 early Wednesday morning. “We have a full six lane flood plus the ditches as well and it is just a lot of water.”
Mayor hails city's response
At a news conference Wednesday afternoon, Mayor Rob Ford said the city's detection systems worked "perfectly" and he hailed the response by staff as "phenomenal."
Ford said city employees are monitoring the forecast and will alert the public if there is additional flooding or any other weather-related issues.
In response to the flooding, Ford said he wants more money set aside to address infrastructure needs in Toronto to prevent similar circumstances.
The mayor then opened the floor to questions about the flood, but reporters asked about the allegations against him. The mayor declined to respond and walked away.
Other road closures as a result of flooding include the intersection of Jane Street and Wilson Avenue in the city's west end and a stretch of Torbram Road near Steeles Avenue in Brampton
There are isolated showers in the forecast for the rest of the day, but sustained rain is not expected.
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