SHAFAQNA (International Shia News Association)- A winter storm that started bringing snow and freezing temperatures to areas of Ontario including the Greater Toronto Area yesterday is making it difficult for commuters this morning.
Environment Canada’s Sunday storm warning remains in effect, and the federal weather agency warns that “in addition to the heavy snow, strong and gusty winds have reduced visibilities to 500 metres or less” on roads and highways.
The snow battering the GTA is part of a larger system currently hovering over southern Ontario. The regions from Sarnia towards Hamilton could see the most snowfall, with about 25 to 35 centimetres total expected.
Winds of up to 70 km/h are blowing in the Niagara Region, creating “near-blizzard conditions” along the lake shore and escarpment.
Police warned drivers to allow more time for their morning commute, to take it slowly and avoid any non-essential travel.
“Unfortunately, it’s a mess,” said Toronto police Const. Clint Stibbe. “Road conditions are poor to say the least and we are seeing people making a lot of bad decisions.”
OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told CBC News there has been more than 200 crashes since midnight, about double the normal amount for this time of year. He said most were minor fender-benders, and no serious injuries have been reported as a result of the weather.
In the GTA, snow is expected to fall until around noon, with a total of 15 to 20 centimetres in the forecast. That snow will be accompanied by freezing temperatures that could make it feel like –26 throughout the morning.
A number of school boards throughout the GTA and surrounding areas have cancelled classes and bus service for the day. You can check out the whole list here.
The City of Toronto dispatched 600 snowplows and 200 salt trucks on Sunday to begin preparing roads for the start of the work week. Many side roads throughout the city have not been plowed, however, and will remain snow covered until well into the day.
The city’s winter operations department said the first round of sidewalk plowing began around 5 a.m. ET and will continue well into the afternoon. Another round of plowing will be needed to fully clear sidewalks of snow, however.
Stibbe said police are responding to an increased number of collisions throughout the city, particularly on the Don Valley Parkway between Eglinton Avenue and Don Mills where vehicles are struggling to navigate the steep southbound decline.
GO Transit is reporting a number of service delays, particularly on the Lakeshore west and east routes. Similarly, several TTC bus routes have been delayed and rerouted because of messy road conditions and service on both subway lines has been disrupted at various stations throughout the network.
Both Pearson and Billy Bishop airports have cancelled or delayed flights, and further disruptions are likely throughout the day. Travellers should check their flight status before leaving for the airport.