Edmonton

Heavy rainfall floods Fort McMurray as wacky weather plagues Prairies

Abu Bakar woke up to the rain coming down. The Fort McMurray man said he looked out his front door Sunday morning to see about an inch of water coating his street, but when he checked the view from the back, he saw a Dodge Ram pick up truck submerged to the tail lights.

‘It’s still pouring. If it continues, we might have to get out of here again.'

Fort McMurray is cleaning up again, this time after heavy rain led to serious flooding in parts of the city. (CBC)

Abu Bakar woke up Sunday morning to see rain coming down — lots of it. 

The Fort McMurray man said when he looked out his front door, he saw about an inch of water coating his street. But when he checked the view from the back, he saw a Dodge Ram pickup truck submerged to the tail lights.

On Sunday, the town was barraged by about 85 millimetres of rain in a two-hour period.

"I thought to myself, 'It's still pouring. If it continues, we might have to get out of here again,'" he admitted on Monday, standing amid the puddles that still dotted his street. Around him, neighbours were still busy disposing of the furniture and appliances damaged when their basements flooded.

"I really feel bad for the people who have been through this and they have to do this again," he said. 

 'I really feel bad for the people who have been through this and they have to do this again.'- Abu Bakar, Fort McMurray resident

The cleanup is on once more in Fort McMurray, which is still grappling with the devastation of the wildfire that swept through and forced the evacuation of the northern Alberta community in May.

The rain knocked out traffic lights on streets submerged by water that lapped at people's porches.

Parts of the hospital emergency department flooded and services had to be moved to another part of the facility, according to Wood Buffalo's director of emergency management Bob Couture, who said the municipality re-manned the emergency operations centre that opened during the wildfire.

One man rode his jet ski through a flooded parking lot near McDonald's. 

The water, which began receding Sunday night, was mostly drained away by Monday morning.

But Fort McMurray isn't the only place grappling with wonky weather.

Thunderstorms sweeping the Prairies

Rain has also been pouring down in Edmonton where Whitemud Drive, an artery road, has flooded twice in one week.

Further south, between Edmonton and Calgary, tornado warnings have stretched on and off again throughout the summer. 

In Saskatchewan, where the community of Arborfield was evacuated in July because of flooding, Yorkton was hit by 70 millimetres of rain that came down in one hour, and two tornadoes touched down in Melville on Sunday.

One hit Jamie Simpson's parents' house, while she huddled in the bathroom with her family.

"When we came out of the house and came around and looked, started surveying the damage and our house was just strewn throughout the field here. It was very surreal," Simpson said.

That storm system then began to move into Manitoba. 

Environment Canada meteorologist Andy Yun said the weather is not unusual for this time of year. On the Prairies, the highest levels of precipitation are in June and July.

What is unusual, Yun suggested, is the dry winters and springs in recent years, which have meant that we've previously seen fewer storms.

"If we look at an overall longer term average, we're probably just catching up to where we should be for this time of year," Yun said.

"I think what's probably notable is in the past, a lot of these storms, if they've come through, they haven't impacted on a community or a large metropolitan area," he added.

Brenda Toutant has lived in Fort McMurray for decades, and only remembers seeing such high water once before.

On Sunday, she saw four drainage trucks lined up along her street.

"The water would go down but the rain just kept coming," she said.

"Mother Nature's wrath is scary."

roberta.bell@cbc.ca

@roberta__bell

With files from Terry Reith, Zoe Todd and Mack Lamoureux

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