Thousands without power, numerous crashes reported in southern Ontario as winter storm hits

Click to play video: 'Pre-Christmas storm grinds much of southern Ontario to a halt'
Pre-Christmas storm grinds much of southern Ontario to a halt
WATCH ABOVE: A major pre-Christmas storm has brought chaos to Ontario’s roads and left thousands without power. Global News’ Sean O’Shea has the latest – Dec 23, 2022

Thousands of people are without power and numerous crashes have been reported in parts of southern Ontario as the province is hit by a large winter storm.

As of around 4 p.m., Hydro One’s outage map showed localized outages throughout the region, with areas north of Peterborough and surrounding the Ottawa area seeing thousands without power.

Areas west and south of Toronto also had numerous outages, the map showed.

Hydro Ottawa said at 4 p.m. that despite the snow picking up, its crews had restored power to more than 100,000 customers, while 4,300 remained without power.

The outages were mainly due to downed wires, broken branches, equipment damage and two broken poles, the utility company said earlier Friday.

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Toronto Hydro’s outage map was mostly clear around 4 p.m. and had been throughout the day.

As of 9:15 p.m., Hydro One said it had restored power to more than 110,000 customers across Ontario.

However, the company warned that more outages are expected as the winter storm continues into Saturday.

It says about 70,000 of its customers in the province are still experiencing power outages that started early Friday morning.

Hydro One says it has mobilized crews from across Ontario as well as from other utilities and contractors.

More than 50 vehicles involved in crash on Highway 402

Meanwhile, a large section of Highway 401 was shut down in southwestern Ontario after numerous crashes were reported.

“Road and weather conditions continue to deteriorate as a result of this massive winter storm that’s hitting Ontario,” Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said in a video posted online during the noon hour.

Click to play video: 'Multiple vehicle collisions on Highways 401 and 402 in Ontario cause closures: OPP'
Multiple vehicle collisions on Highways 401 and 402 in Ontario cause closures: OPP

“Right now in southwestern Ontario between Tilbury and and Colonel Talbot, out towards London, we have multiple vehicles — reports of up to 100 vehicles — involved in multiple collisions. Highway 401 is shut down in both directions in that area.”

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Middlesex OPP reported that Highway 402 was also completely shut down from London to Sarnia due to crashes.

A crash involving more than 50 vehicles happened on the highway near Kerwood Road.

“We’re seeing more collisions in the Cambridge area,” Schmidt added.

“The wind and snow is blowing in and today is going to be a tough day for a lot of drivers. Please, if you don’t need to be on the roads, stay home.”

In Dufferin and Perth counties, the OPP said all roads were closed due to the poor conditions.

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In an update after 5 p.m., Schmidt said issues were being reported across the province.

“We’ve got major problems continuing on the 401, 402, QEW, Highway 406 – really all across the province,” he said.

A huge winter storm moved into southern Ontario starting late Thursday, initially bringing rain for most areas.

A flash freeze moved through the region Friday morning, with precipitation switching to snow, accompanied by strong winds.

The areas expected to be the hardest hit — west of Lake Huron, in parts of cottage country, in the Kingston area and in parts of the Niagara Region — are under a blizzard warning, where lake-effect snow is expected worsen conditions.

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— With files from The Canadian Press

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