Impacts of a Big Storm

Cole Engineering is leading the way in real-time environmental monitoring and analytic solutions in the Greater Toronto Area. Working collaboratively with the City of Toronto, City of Mississauga, and the Region of Peel (Region), they have been able to streamline the data collection and analysis process of rain gauge networks. The importance of real-time rainfall monitoring could not have been greater during and after the excessive rainfall on July 8th.

On July 8th The Greater Toronto Area was hit by a rainfall event that exceeded the 1 in 100 year return period in many areas. The total rainfall in some areas was greater than 110mm within a two (2) hour period. The timing and intensity of the rainfall had immediate and long term impacts to the region. Serious disruption was caused due to surface flooding to commuters; with flooded highways, limited public transport, and even a submerged two-story passenger train.

During the rainfall event, Cole Engineering was able to provide their clients with alarms to operations’ staff, and meaningful analysis within a number of hours afterwards. Using a combination of rain gauges equipped with wireless cell technology and dynamic spatial analysis tools, Cole Engineering was also able to provide the agencies in the area with graphical representations of the rainfall distribution across the area. The speed in which this information can be collected, analyzed and distributed is critical when informing stakeholders are looking for answers. The graphical representation, often referred to as a rainfall map or isohyetal map, allows the viewer to quickly and easily understand the distribution of rainfall and to pinpoint the worst affected areas. Given the right setup, the analysis can be completed and verified within 24 hours of rainfall events.[rainfall-map]Rainfall maps are also powerful tools during the aftermath of damaging rainfall events. The graphical representation of a rainfall event allows for quick and easy assimilation by laypersons or engineers. With improved quality control achieved with real-time setup and the quick analysis, this gives senior management of municipal and government agencies the confidence to inform the constituents of the magnitude of a rainfall event. This goes towards alleviating public unrest during the aftermath of flooding. The isohyetal map also offers great value to the planning, design and management of water resources.

The July 8th event was an eye-opener for many people on the destructive power of rainfall. However, by having a sufficient coverage of rain gauges which provide data in real-time, understanding the impact and being able to make quick decisions is achievable. This also allows for the creation of detailed and informative maps that allow all parties to understand both the challenges and the bigger picture when it comes to managing exceptional rain