Icy road conditions close all London schools Wednesday, post-secondary institutions remain open

The Thames Valley District School Board, the London District Catholic School Board, and all locations of the Montessori Academy of London are closed due to icy conditions.
The Thames Valley District School Board, the London District Catholic School Board, and all locations of the Montessori Academy of London are closed due to icy conditions. File

You’ve heard of snow days, but students across the London region are getting an ice day Wednesday.

Officials with the Thames Valley District School Board and London District Catholic School Board announced that all schools and administration offices are going to be closed due to road conditions caused by freezing rain hitting the region overnight.

Schools in the French Catholic School Board in London and Woodstock as well as all locations of the Montessori Academy of London are also closed Wednesday, officials said.

Earlier the school bus authority announced all school transportation was cancelled.

Both Western University and Fanshawe College are open.

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More than just schools are affected by the weather. The London International Airport is advising travellers to check the status of their flights as there have been some cancellations and delays.

A freezing rain warning remains in effect from Environment Canada after icy conditions started pelting the region early Wednesday morning leaving a dangerous coating on roads and sidewalks.

“The system is going to be over top of London for awhile, which means surfaces like roads, sidewalks and parking lots will be slippery,” said John Parsons, the city’s division manager of transportation and roadside operations

Parsons said freezing rain is a difficult situation because everything gets coated at the same time and it can take awhile for their equipment to get through the system.

“We’ve had salt trucks out since the beginning of this storm and we were actually doing some pretreating before it came in. We have crews out sanding sidewalks, pedestrian crosswalks, and bus stops at the moment. It’s all hands on deck to get surfaces treated,” he said.

READ MORE: Freezing rain bringing dicey road conditions and rising water levels to London

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He said they keep a close eye on the weather radar and make sure they’re prepared before bad weather strikes.

“We want to make sure all our equipment is ready to go and fueled up. We had crews in before the start of the storm that were loading salt,” said Parsons.

“We pretreated some of our bridges and roads on our main routes because those are the areas that we need to treat first. We also have crews out monitoring conditions and ready to go before the system moves in,” he said.

Don’t be surprised if your road hasn’t been treated yet, said Parsons. They stick to the main routes first, and for a good reason.

“We’ve been focusing on the main roads because we want to make sure we’re able to support EMS and emergency vehicles and buses on our main roads.”

“Once we get those in good shape, we’ll be moving to our local streets and treating them,” he said.

Parsons said they have about 150 staff members out on the roads in salt trucks and sidewalk units, adding salt trucks are staffed to run 24/7 if necessary.

“If you don’t have to go out and you can postpone some of your appointments, I would recommend doing that,” he said.

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READ MORE: Freezing rain warning issued for Guelph area, Waterloo region

As for what London can expect weather wise for the rest of the day, it seems even a slight change in temperature can have a big effect on what kind of precipitation falls to the ground.

“If it’s -1 C versus -3 C that makes a big difference, because the cooler the temperature, the easier it is for the freezing rain to adhere and to freeze onto surfaces,” said Ryan Rozinski, meteorologist with Environment Canada. “The surface type is also very important.”

According to the weather reporting agency, London is supposed to get some normal rain in the afternoon, but again there will be the potential for more freezing rain later Wednesday when the temperature dips again.

“Currently rain is mixed with ice pellets and we’re looking at drizzle or possibly freezing drizzle continuing through the evening and overnight,” said Rozinski

“It’s not until Thursday that we see the temperatures rise,” he said.

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Anyone who has to be out on the roads is advised to leave themselves plenty of extra time to get where they need to be.

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Officials also note that sidewalks and parking lots will be icy so pedestrians should also take care.