Ottawa streets 'became canals' as thunderstorm brought flooding, power outages

Heavy rain flooded streets in parts of Ottawa with reports of vehicles being left behind by drivers.

Ottawa received more than 77 millimetres of rainfall

Watch Thursday's storm cause hail, flooding in Ottawa and Gatineau

8 months ago
Duration 0:51
Here are some scenes from Thursday's storm, which caused power outages, hail and flooding, forcing some to abandon their vehicles. Environment Canada had issued severe thunderstorm warnings for the Ottawa-Gatineau area.

A thunderstorm brought heavy rain, hail and power outages to parts of Ottawa Thursday, forcing some people to abandon their vehicles on flooded roads.

Ottawa Police Service and Ottawa Fire Services warned of road closures Thursday afternoon and said they had to direct traffic and move submerged vehicles.

Environment Canada issued severe thunderstorm warnings for the Ottawa-Gatineau area earlier Thursday, warning a line of storms could hit the region from around midday into the evening.

The agency lifted the warnings and watches in the Ottawa-Gatineau region shortly after 5 p.m.

Environment Canada said Ottawa's climate weather station recorded 77.4 millimetres of rainfall in the city Thursday, while surrounding regions received between 80 and 110 millimetres.

The previous rainfall record for Aug. 10 in Ottawa came in 2004, when 67 millimetres of rain fell on the city, according to Environment Canada.

As of about 6 p.m., Ottawa paramedics reported no injuries due to the storm.

A car is submerged.
A car submerged on Woodroffe Avenue near Knoxdale Road in Ottawa on Aug. 10, 2023. (Buntola Nou/CBC News)
Cars submerged off Walkley Road in Ottawa on Aug. 10, 2023.
Cars submerged off Walkley Road in Ottawa on Aug. 10, 2023. (Submitted by Sandra Dee Reid)

Road closures include Woodroffe Avenue between Knoxdale Road and Norice Street and Merivale Road between Colonnade Road and Woodfield Drive, according to City of Ottawa social media.

People should only travel if necessary, Ottawa fire advised on X, formerly known as Twitter.

Posts on social media show streets in the Nepean and Heron Gate areas deep under water.

Sections of St. Laurent Boulevard, Industrial, Smyth and Innes roads and parts of the city's Vanier, Overbrook, Glebe and Rockcliffe neighbourhoods were also affected by flooding, the city said in an email.

Flooded office building front entrance.
Heavy rain flooded the entrance of the Pebb Building on Riverside Drive near Bank Street on Aug. 10, 2023. (Guy Quenneville/CBC News)
A car submerged on Kilborn Avenue, Aug. 10, 2023.
A car submerged on Kilborn Avenue, Aug. 10, 2023. (Giacomo Panico/CBC)

Knoxdale-Merivale Coun. Sean Devine said on X he received reports of backed-up sewers causing "street rivers" in Nepean.

In an interview, Devine called the flooding "sobering."

How many times does Mother Nature have to slap us in the face before we wake up?- Coun. Sean Devine

"This is just the latest in a series of extreme weather events," he said. "Whether it's ice rain, or whether it's tornadoes. Now we have this kind of flooding. How many times does Mother Nature have to slap us in the face before we wake up?"

River ward Coun. Riley Brockington said on X all City of Ottawa sports fields were closed, and no scheduled games or practices will take place Thursday evening.

In an interview, Brockington said his ward resembled Venice, Italy after the storm had passed through.

"The streets became canals with such a heavy downpour," he said. "Our city's rainwater infrastructure could not handle such volumes of water."

Costco said its store on Merivale Road experienced flooding and closed its doors as workers cleaned up.

A video from Ottawa Sports and Entertainment Group showed a steady stream of rainfall dripping from the roof of TD Place Arena into plastic buckets on the concrete surface of the rink.

Hydro Ottawa reported 24,000 customers without power at the peak of the storm, the City of Ottawa said in an email. A couple hundred customers were still without power hours later, according to the Hydro Ottawa outage map.

The Rideau Valley Conservation Authority advised extreme caution around all water bodies and dam structures in the Rideau Watershed, which drains into the Ottawa River.

"We were in a drought in part of our watershed in early July, and it's just kind of switched 180 degrees to be in a wet spell now," said Brian Stratton, manager of engineering with the conservation authority.

Severe thunderstorms caused "intermittent ground stops" at the Ottawa airport Thursday afternoon, the airport authority said on X.

Some transit stations flooded or were leaking, including Parliament station where water dripped onto an escalator.

WATCH | Heavy rain causes leak at Ottawa's Parliament LRT station:

Water leaks at Ottawa's Parliament LRT station after heavy rain

8 months ago
Duration 0:29
Following a thunderstorm Thursday afternoon, water was seen dripping onto an escalator at Parliament station.