Southern Ontario woke up to a dumping of snow that fell Monday morning as a major historic winter storm swept through the region.
Just after 7:45 a.m. Monday, Environment Canada put the City of Toronto and Hamilton under a “blizzard” warning, shortly followed by other surrounding GTA regions.
At around 11:30 a.m., blizzard warnings in Toronto, Peel, York, Durham, Halton and Hamilton regions were lifted.
Snow accumulation of 40 to 60 cm was expected in the hardest hit areas such as the GTA, Environment Canada said.
Wind gusts of up to 60 km/h caused blowing snow and reduced visibility, the weather agency continued.
Other southern Ontario regions were under “winter storm” or “snowfall” warnings.
Environment Canada said there were peak snowfall rates of 8 to 10 centimetres per hour this morning in Toronto, with a little less in other cities.
Meanwhile, on the roads, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said thousands of cars were stuck along Highway 401 in Toronto and urged drivers to stay home.
“The biggest problem right now is the plows are stuck in this as well,” Schmidt said. “They can’t clear the highways, and you’re not going anywhere … if you’re stuck in traffic, you might be here a while.”
“Please if you haven’t left the driveway, stay home.” Schmidt said.
Toronto police had to temporarily shut down the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway.
The closure was to get cars off the expressways and to get plows in to clear the roadways, police said.
Drivers out on the roads have told Global News they had to shovel their cars out or got stuck in the snow. One man in a Ford F-150 pickup truck said he got stuck at least four times and was waiting on a friend with a bigger truck to help get him out.
By late Monday afternoon, Global News Meteorologist Ross Hull said the Greater Toronto Area was “out of the heaviest snow.”
“There’s still some snow falling in Eastern Ontario, but even that will ease tonight,” he said.
Hull said, though, with temperatures dropping Monday night and “gusty winds,” the snow will “take on more of a powdery form and blow around easier, bringing a blowing snow threat.”
“Especially in exposed areas,” Hull said. “Dropping temperatures could also cause slushy snow to turn to ice and make it more difficult for any vehicles stuck in the snow to get out.”
According to Hull, as of 2 p.m. ET, downtown Toronto had seen a total of 36 cm of snow.
Meanwhile, at the Toronto Pearson International Airport, snowfall totals of 32 cm had been recorded.
In a press conference Monday afternoon, Toronto Mayor John Tory, said the city would have to declare a “major snowstorm condition” to help with the snow removal process.
Several schools in the area were closed to in-person learning. Some switched to online learning, while others have said Monday is a complete “snow day” with no instruction.
Local public health units in Toronto, Peel, York and Durham regions also said they cancelled COVID-19 vaccination clinics scheduled for Monday due to the major snow storm. People are being asked to re-book their appointments.
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