Toronto city crews prepare to respond to pre-Christmas winter storm

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Toronto city crews prepare for pre-Christmas winter storm
WATCH ABOVE: The City of Toronto's director of operations and maintenance Vincent Sferrazza outlined on Thursday the city's plan to prepare for and manage the winter storm set to hit the area. Sferrazza said trucks and equipment will be parked in strategic locations across the city in order to get to areas quicker — a move he calls “loaded standby.” – Dec 22, 2022

The City of Toronto says crews are on hand to respond to a major storm predicted to hit the Greater Toronto Area just before Christmas.

Vincent Sferrazza, the City of Toronto’s director of operations and maintenance, said trucks and equipment will be parked in strategic locations across the city in order to get to areas quicker — a move he calls “loaded standby.”

“In essence, you already have the vehicles close to their routes so that it minimizes the downtime from driving to a yard, such as this, to get to their routes,” Sferrazza told reporters outside of a salt yard in North York.

“The weather is going to change extremely quickly, there’s going to be high winds. We have to try to get on top of it as quickly as we can.”

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According to Global News’ Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell, the storm will arrive from the U.S. Midwest first as rain on Thursday evening and into overnight but Arctic air will rapidly plummet temperatures over the Great Lakes on Friday and early Saturday — Christmas Eve.

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The winter storm is expected across parts of southern Ontario just ahead of Christmas Day and will impact travel plans for Ontarians planning to commute back and forth long distances for the holidays.

Although Toronto will likely only see around 5 to 10 cm of snow, other areas outside of the GTA towards cottage country, London will see much more accumulation of between 20 and 60 cm of snow.

However, for the Greater Toronto Area, Farnell said along with the flash freeze, the winds are likely to be the biggest concern on Friday into Saturday as wind gusts of 100 km/h to 120 km/h near Lake Ontario are expected which can prompt power outages.

Sferrazza said staff have been watching the path of the storm for a few days and based on the recent forecasts of rain quickly changing to freezing rain and to snow is part of the challenge for crews.

“This is probably going to be one of our most challenging and tricky storms that we’ve had to deal with because of the event that it turns over from rain to freezing rain so quickly,” Sferrazza said.

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In a pre-storm briefing, the City said sidewalks and bike lanes would be plowed when snow reaches 2 cm, while expressways would begin clearing at 2.5 cm. Major roads would be plowed at 5 cm and residential streets at 8 cm.

Snow clearing crews are on standby to begin salting roads “as soon as snow starts to stick” and forestry staff will “respond in the event of high winds causing branches or trees to fall,” the city said.

Officials urged residents to consider altering plans through the holiday weekend as travel conditions could rapidly worsen. A rapid temperature drop early on Friday is expected to freeze rain and melted snow, creating hazardous conditions.

— with files from Global News’ Isaac Callan


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