Photo by Graeme & Sara Bunton & Peele, used under Creative Commons license

Here’s your future

A week ago tonight Toronto was hit by rains of historic proportions. We got pounded. We got soaked. We learned to convert metric to cubits.

The story of the storm and the aftermath has been well-covered in the usual places. Torontoist had lots of great pictures, including of the overnight extraction of passengers from a hot, stranded, snake-ridden GO train.

Nellie had a bit of an ordeal getting home, but for the most part we got off easy. I know people who lost their basement or lost their car, or both. Half the people in the GTA had brutal commutes home, often abandoning their cars after they ran out of gas.

For my part I was lucky, with maybe a little farmer’s son’s weather instincts thrown in there too. I was working away at my office when, around 4:40PM, I turned and looked out my window. It just looked…wrong outside. It was too dark, and the sky was an odd colour. My window faces south, so I couldn’t see the huge cloud coming south toward us from the north. Still, my gut was telling me this wasn’t going to be just another rain storm, and I didn’t have an umbrella — the weather forecast hadn’t called for anything other than sprinkles at noon. I brought up my favourite weather site, and it said there would be no rain for 20 minutes. 20 minutes is just enough time for me to get home, so I went for it. I put my computer to sleep, grabbed my bag, and took off. I wouldn’t normally do that. I’d normally wait it out, or borrow an umbrella from someone, or just be okay with getting wet. But this seemed different.

Once I got outside I was even more sure that it was going to be heavy-duty. Growing up on the farm we could always tell when it was going to rain, but yesterday I felt that sensation much stronger than I remember feeling it before. I looked north when crossing Yonge Street, giving me a clear look all the way to the top of the GTA. I saw the biggest, blackest cloud I’ve ever seen. It actually looked like the cloud-covered UFOs from Independence Day. I hurried up.

Luckily a subway train came quickly, and a few stops later I got off. This picture was taken from the 70th floor at Scotia Plaza, probably around the time I was getting off the subway. I got to our building, feeling only a few tiny drops as I entered the lobby. 30 seconds later, by the time I’d taken the elevator up to the condo and looked outside, I saw this:

So yeah…I was pretty lucky. I mean, in the grand scheme of things, what we experienced was minor compared to the flooding in Alberta or especially the train explosion in Lac-Megantic. But I’m still glad I didn’t get caught in it.

.:.

Photo by Graeme & Sara Bunton & Peel, used under Creative Commons license

Après le deluge, le rose

Since CityNews, BlogTO, Torontoist and everybody else are posting dozens of amazing pictures of the storm that slammed Toronto earlier today (and spawned tornadoes around the GTA), I decided to post one from the minutes following the storm.

Make no mistake, the storm was amazing. I got video of it rolling in (and this storm did roll…you could see it twisting in over the core) and envelop my building. At one point I was looking south and saw a huge bolt of lightning hit two blocks south of me. The flash and sound knocked me backward, and I saw whatever it hit — I’m guessing a streetlight — glow white and then red for nearly a minute afterward.

Anyway, as soon as the blanket-thick rain and clouds moved off the sunset made an appearance, lighting up the sky. When the Moss Park lights came on I couldn’t resist.