How well does Toronto handle abnormal weather?
If five recent examples are any indication, the answer is not well.
If the summer of 2013 is remembered for anything, it's flooding. In early July, large parts of the city dealt with flooding, which caused mass power outages, hours-long traffic standstills and an extensive clean up.
The very next month, though, another flood, albeit a minor one, occurred after rainfall. The underpass at Lower Simcoe Street was flooded, leaving two cabs stranded and the street shut down.
Any snow-removal conversation in Toronto starts and ends with then-mayor Mel Lastman calling in the army to help shovel snow in the blizzard of 1999. But since then, Toronto has struggled with snow removal. In February, Toronto was hit with 30 centimetres of snow, causing more than 100 traffic incidents and massive transit delays.
For about five days in July, Toronto's extreme heat warnings were a regular occurrence. Community cooling centres and pools had extended hours and people were urged to check in on seniors. However, Toronto was a cool spot in comparison to its northeastern neighbours, with temperatures as much as 11 degrees higher in Chicago, Philadelphia and other comparable cities.
When it rains, poor drainage infrastructure in Toronto's aging public buildings becomes exposed. Outside the great flood of 2013, Union Station's pipes couldn't handle a brief, but heavy, rainfall in May of last year, causing the entire station to be waterlogged and shut down.
Last fall, Hurricane Sandy wrecked parts of the eastern seaboard, damaging some parts of New Jersey beyond recognition. Winds of 65 km/h caused power outages, flight cancellations and the tragic death of a woman hit by flying debris. Winds in Toronto, though, were roughly half as strong as New York City and in parts of Canada's Maritime provinces.