Police respond to dozens of crashes as winter storm hits GTA

A winter system moved through the Greater Toronto Area Thursday afternoon, bringing significant snowfall that caused poor driving conditions and several collisions.

The system arrived over the noon hour, covering roads and sidewalks with snow as it passed through the region. A winter weather travel advisory was in effect for much of the day, with five to 10 centimetres of snow in the forecast.

Toronto snow

The advisory ended at 4:30 p.m. However, Environment Canada said the region could see lake effect flurries this evening, especially for areas north and west of the GTA, as well as strong northwesterly winds gusting up to 70 km/h.

“The combination of these strong winds and the preceding fresh snowfall may lead to localized reduced visibility in blowing snow in rural areas,” the federal weather agency said in its advisory.

“Travel may be hazardous due to sudden changes in the weather. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow.”

IN PHOTOS: Toronto hit with blast of winter with burst of heavy snowfall

 

Dozens of minor collisions reported

As snow began to accumulate on the roads, police received several calls for collisions, all considered minor. Officials urged drivers to use extra caution and to leave themselves more time to get around.

Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said officers dealt with about 60 crashes this afternoon, but no serious injuries were reported in any of the incidents.

“This weather has had a significant impact on commuting, and of course, it couldn’t have come really at a worse time for the afternoon, Thursday evening commute. So it’s been a busy day for officers and a frustrating day for many drivers,” Schmidt said.

“Drive to the conditions. Slow down. Give yourself lots of space. These crashes that we’re dealing with over and over again (involve) drivers not realizing that when they hit the brakes, their vehicle is not going to stop as they’ve been accustomed to on dry roads, and they end up sliding right into the back of stop traffic or off the road into a ditch or a to a concrete wall.”

In the city, Toronto police have responded to a number of collisions as well as vehicles being stuck in the snow. No serious injuries have been reported at this time.

“The roads are expected to be slippery and snow-covered tonight into tomorrow. Drivers, please slow down and drive to the weather conditions,” Toronto police said in a post on X.

For the real-time traffic information for Toronto, GTA, and surrounding areas, click here.

 

Expect cancellations, delays at Pearson airport: GTAA

As of 5 p.m., 5.56 per cent of the 486 scheduled departures at Toronto Pearson International Airport have been cancelled. Meanwhile, 6.89 per cent of the 477 flights scheduled to arrive have been cancelled.

“There could be a number of factors as to why flights are delayed, but some of those you are seeing are definitely because of the weather,” said Sean Davidson, a spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), which operates Pearson.

“What we do is we work with the airline partners, including our agencies like NAV Canada, to determine how many flights can take off and land in situations like this.”

Pearson airport

Davidson said travellers should expect some delays and cancellations for the rest of the day. He added that anyone heading to the airport should check their flight status beforehand.

To keep operations at Pearson running, Davidson said the airport’s snow-clearing equipment had been deployed since the weather system began at noon.

“There’s a number of measures that we’ve put in place, just like getting some of that new high-tech snow clearing equipment. It helps get our taxiways, aprons, and runways clearer,” he said.

“We’re making sure that we’re staffed up and ready to go so that when events like this come, we have the crews who are ready to get out and clear the snow as quickly as possible.”

In a post on X, the airport said it de-iced 92 planes since the snow hit this afternoon — an average de-icing time of 4.23 minutes per aircraft.

 

City begins clearing snow

The city said crews had been out on streets and sidewalks since 1 p.m.

Speaking to CP24 at 4 p.m., Vince Sferrazza, director of operations and maintenance at Transportation Services, said residents should expect snow-clearing operations throughout the evening.

“We’ve completed the arterial and collector roads. We started the sidewalks and bicycle lanes,” he said. “And within the next hour or two, we’re going to be hitting the local roads where we’re going to be both salting and plowing concurrently.”

Sferrazza said he was hoping that all sidewalks and local roads would be cleared by Friday morning. He noted that the northern parts of the city saw higher snow accumulation.

Queen Street West

Meanwhile, in a news release, the TTC said it was ready to get customers home during the afternoon rush, despite the storm.

“With up to 10 cm of snow forecasted to fall in Toronto this afternoon, the TTC is taking proactive measures to keep customers and employees safe while delivering as much service as possible,” the transit agency said.

The TTC said additional staff and maintenance vehicles have been deployed throughout the system and extra buses will be deployed along certain routes.

“This strategic measure is aimed at preserving service levels in areas where heavy snowfall or other adverse weather conditions result in significant slowdowns, detours, or disruptions,” the agency said.

Nearly 100 bus stops located in spots where buses are prone to getting stuck were taken out of service because of the storm. The TTC said customers can check whether a stop is in service by visiting its website.

In terms of temperature, Toronto is expected to see a high of 0 C on Friday with a chance of flurries, followed by a high of – 2 C on Saturday and 0 C on Sunday.

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