Thunderstorm watch ended after brief but intense rainfall

Commuters heading home Tuesday afternoon faced heavy rain and strong gusts of winds as a thunderstorm moved across the city.

'Severe thunderstorm' moved quickly through Toronto, Environment Canada says

Rainfall amounts of 30 to 50 mm may be possible in a short period of time on Tuesday, Environment Canada says. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)

A thunderstorm watch for Toronto has ended two hours after a brief but intense downpour moved over the city Tuesday afternoon, Environment Canada said. 

The agency tracked the storm over Toronto from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Toronto police say a hydro pole was split into two by lightning during the storm. Hydro crews are working to clear the area near Highfield Rd north of Dundas St E. 

City crews block off one lane of traffic on Lake Shore Boulevard West at Remembrance Drive for flooding. (Sue Goodspeed/CBC)

A special weather statement — later upgraded to a thunderstorm watch — loomed over the city for most of the day.

Early Tuesday morning, The City of Toronto issued a statement to say that Transportation Services staff are monitoring the roads and working to keep catch basins free of debris.

Mayor John Tory noted city crews have been dispatched to some flooding "hot spots" so they can quickly respond to calls.

"They are using some of the electronic technology to closely monitor the situations in difference places to make sure they are on top of this and I think that is as much as can be expected," he told reporters during an afternoon news conference.

The city also advised residents to take "extra care" when travelling and outlined steps to mitigate the risk of damage to property.

One lane of traffic was closed on Lake Shore Boulevard West due to pooling water Tuesday. (Sue Goodspeed/CBC)

Residents were advised to:

  • Walk, bike and drive with caution, with motorists being reminded to watch for cyclists and pedestrians.
  • Avoid driving when possible, especially in low-lying areas and underpasses, or through deep water.
  • Treat traffic signals that are down as four-way stops.
  • Help clear catch basins on their streets "where safe to do so," to prevent both street and basement flooding.
  • Move valuables onto shelves or upper floors in their homes.
  • Ensure downspouts are clear and are draining onto a permeable surface.
  • Keep cleaning solutions, paints and other chemicals off the floor so they don't contaminate floodwaters.

Flood warning

Tuesday's weather is just the latest in a series of heavy downpours in the GTA this month. The region was overwhelmed by a sudden rainstorm on Aug. 7, then another system brought more showers and thunderstorms last Friday.

The Toronto Region Conservation Authority (TRCA) issued a flood outlook Monday afternoon, which is an early notice of the potential for flooding based on weather forecasts.

The agency said all rivers within the GTA are at a higher risk of hazardous conditions and flooding, so it's advising people to be cautious around all bodies of water.

The flood outlook is in effect until Wednesday.

Meanwhile, once the storm passes through by Tuesday evening, more pleasant weather will replace the humidity that's been a hallmark of the summer. Temperatures will hover in the low to mid-20s for the rest of the week under sunny skies.

With files from Julia Whalen

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