First blast of winter weather in London keeps police, emergency services, salt trucks busy

980 CFPL

Though there have already been a few hints of Jack Frost this season, drivers throughout London and surrounding area seemed caught unaware by a blast of winter weather conditions.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says between five and 10 centimetres of snow started falling around 1 p.m. Thursday, keeping police, emergency services, and salt trucks busy.

“We’re a little disappointed,” said Middlesex County OPP Const. Max Gomez.

While London Police say they received three times the usual number of crash-related calls Thursday, Middlesex County OPP and London’s OPP Highway Safety Division responded to more than 20 calls before 5 p.m.

West Region OPP tweeted that they’d responded to 340 crashes across southwestern Ontario in four hours.

“We know that Ontarians can do better. There’s a lot of winter to come, and we need to change our driving habits if we want to make it through.”

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: You don’t always need snow tires. But where you do, here’s what experts recommend

The city’s fleet of 27 salt trucks hit the roads early in the afternoon. John Parsons, the city’s manager of transportation and roadside operations, said the snow became heavier around rush hour.

“It was quite a slow process moving through rush hour traffic,” he said.

“We started to see some improvements after rush hour died down, and trucks were able to get around. The road conditions started to improve after that.”

Salt trucks continued to clear main roads overnight. By 6 a.m. Friday, Parsons said main roads were treated and crews were working on local streets and sanding at intersections, curves, and hills.

“We should be able to move through those fairly quickly.”

Parsons says they’re prepared for a couple more centimetres of snow Friday. Environment and Climate Change Canada is forecasting a mix of rain and snow, but severe weather meteorologist Rob Kuhn expects it won’t be significant.

With a high of 2 C in the forecast for both Friday and Saturday, Kuhn expects conditions outside to be sloppy.

“Some of the snow will melt, but it’s not going to be mild enough for all of it to melt,” he said.

Story continues below advertisement

READ MORE: London region expecting 2 bouts of snow, winter weather this week

“The next chance of any flurries looks to be early next week, with a weak weather system. We’re just having mostly cloudy skies, with 40 per cent chance of flurries on Monday and Monday night.”

Kuhn expects the weather will be fairly calm, once what’s left of Thursday’s snow system clears out Friday and Saturday.

Police are hoping that by the next significant blast of winter weather, drivers will have a better sense of how to drive according to conditions.

“This is a small taste of winter to come,” said Gomez.

“It really shouldn’t catch us by surprise. We need motorists to drive according to road and weather conditions. It’s imperative that motorists take their safety into their hands by slowing down, not driving aggressively, and not driving distracted.”