A band of heavy rain and thunderstorms unleashed a deluge of water onto the Greater Toronto Area Wednesday morning, flooding some roads and buildings.
The high waters closed several streets throughout the region and parts of Highway 401, slowing traffic and in some cases stalling cars that tried to plow through the deep water.
Toronto Fire Service performed 12 water rescues in two hours, each involving multiple waterlogged cars, but reported no injuries. It also responded to flooded basements and other water-related calls throughout the region, according to District Chief Stephan Powell.
“We’ll call it a flash flood,” he said. “It’s taking a while for the ground to absorb it all … The heavy rain came through very quickly.”
Videos posted to social media showed cars being hoisted out of the water, sometimes flooded up to their windshields. Mr. Powell warned motorists to avoid waterlogged areas.
Most of the highway road closures and lane restrictions had been lifted by early afternoon, according to Ontario Provincial Police.
The sudden flooding briefly interrupted service on the Bloor subway line; trains heading east bypassed Jane station as a result of the water buildup.
The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority issued a flood warning at noon because of highly localized and intense rainfall. Lake Ontario and rivers throughout the city were extremely high and could have spilled their banks in some areas, the notice said.
“Boardwalks and other pathways along Lake Ontario’s waterfront are dangerous due to the high water levels,” the organization warned. “Stay away from areas that are currently experiencing flooding and erosion and obey all trail-closure notices.”
At Beatty Buddies daycare in the East Danforth area, two classrooms flooded, prompting staff to request that parents pick up their children earlier than usual.
The storm was stronger than expected. Some parts of the city reported more than 60 millimetres of rainfall, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada. Though the rain had abated by early afternoon, more could be on the way, according to Geoff Coulson, a warning-preparedness meteorologist with the agency.
“The air mass is still very unstable across Southern Ontario,” he said. “There’s a possibility of more scattered showers or thunderstorms late this afternoon and into this evening.”
The storms hit Burlington, Etobicoke, Mississauga and west Toronto hardest, Mr. Coulson said, adding that as temperatures and humidity levels soar this weekend, it could cause more sudden storms.