‘Potentially historic’ ice storm arrives in southern Ontario; closures, crashes reported

Click to play video: 'Police have handled over 550 collisions in GTA, surrounding areas on Saturday: OPP' Police have handled over 550 collisions in GTA, surrounding areas on Saturday: OPP
WATCH ABOVE: Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says there were more than 550 collisions on OPP-patrolled roads in and around the GTA on Saturday – Apr 14, 2018

As Environment Canada warns residents in southern Ontario of a “potentially historic ice storm” this weekend, officials are reporting hundreds of collisions on area roads and there are a number of weather-related closures in place.

The weather agency issued warnings for the GTA and across southern Ontario on Saturday.

“Rain is changing to freezing rain as expected. It should persist into this evening. Some ice pellets may be mixed in at times,” an Environment Canada freezing rain warning read, noting there will likely be a lull in the precipitation Saturday evening.

READ MORE: Potential ice storm may cause widespread power outages across southern Ontario

“However, freezing rain will likely become widespread again. It should persist until it changes to rain Sunday afternoon. Significant rain may fall late Sunday and Sunday night, creating localized flooding.”

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In the Toronto area, Environment Canada said an ice buildup of 10 to 20 millimetres are likely by late Sunday. Areas outside of the GTA could see higher amounts, especially toward the Niagara Escarpment area.

Global News Meteorologist Ross Hull said winds on Sunday could result in damages that affect power.

“All areas will start to see strong northeasterly winds which could gust up to 60, 70 km/h tomorrow. With ice buildup on trees, that could lead to significant power outages,” Hull said Saturday afternoon.

Meanwhile north of the GTA and in parts of central and eastern Ontario, residents had to deal with snow and ice pellets.

Hydro officials said extra crews have been brought in to respond to outages created by the storm system. There were less than 5,000 customers without power as of 12 a.m. on Sunday, according to Hydro One’s website.

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The City of Toronto said 65 salters were on duty to treat local roads. As of 10:30 p.m. on Saturday, city crews finished the fourth round of applying salt on the DVP, Gardiner Expressway and Allen Road as well as the third round on arterial roads and come collector roads.

READ MORE: Man in critical condition after sign blows over in Hamilton, paramedics say

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority issued a flood watch on Saturday.

“Due to high soil moisture content in the region and the forecasted rainfall amount, all rivers within the GTA will be experiencing higher flows and water levels, resulting in potential flooding and hazardous conditions,” the statement said.

Residents are also encouraged by officials to check on the status of their flights at Toronto Pearson International Airport and Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport as the weather may cause delays.

James Kilgour, director of Toronto’s office of emergency management, said city crews are regularly meeting in order to respond to potential issues. He encouraged residents to prepare in the event of a power outage.

“Make sure you have food and water on hand, and a radio,” he said while encouraging residents to also check in with neighbours.

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If you were planning to watch the Toronto Raptors or Maple Leafs playoff games in front of the Air Canada Centre on Saturday, Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment said the activities have been cancelled due to weather.

WATCH: City of Toronto confident limited number of salt trucks can tackle ice storm. Kamil Karamali reports. (April 13)

Click to play video: 'City of Toronto confident limited number of salt trucks can tackle ice storm' City of Toronto confident limited number of salt trucks can tackle ice storm
City of Toronto confident limited number of salt trucks can tackle ice storm – Apr 13, 2018

OPP receive more than 550 collision reports

Ontario Provincial Police said they received more than 550 reports of collisions on OPP-patrolled roads in and around the GTA as of Saturday evening.

“The collisions we are being called to are all preventable,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said.

“Give yourself lots of room, do not be in a hurry, don’t take chances and if you can avoid travel today, this would be the day to avoid it.”

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Universities, colleges cancel classes and exams due to storm

In anticipation of the storm system, the following post-secondary institutions closed on Saturday:

Centennial College (Saturday classes cancelled)

Georgian College (Saturday’s open house rescheduled to April 21)

Humber College (Saturday’s open house, classes, campus events cancelled, University of Guelph-Humber exams rescheduled to April 20)

Loyalist College (Saturday’s open house rescheduled to April 28)

McMaster University (Saturday’s exams rescheduled to April 22)

Mohawk College (Saturday’s exams rescheduled to April 21)

Ryerson University (Saturday morning exams proceeding, afternoon exams cancelled and will be rescheduled)

Sheridan College (Saturday classes, Theatre Sheridan shows cancelled)

University of Toronto Scarborough campus (closed for the rest of Saturday)

University of Waterloo (Saturday exams scheduled for after 11 a.m. rescheduled to April 22)

York University (operations suspended, Saturday’s exams postponed)

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