Greater Toronto Area digs out after major winter storm
TORONTO -- The Greater Toronto and Hamilton area and much of southern Ontario are digging out following a major winter storm.
Snowfall warnings have ended for the GTA and most of the province, but crews are cleaning up the remnants of the storm.
Initial storm data indicate that the GTA received around 10-15 cm of snow between Monday night and Tuesday at noon. Snowfall amounts were higher around Hamilton and Niagara.
A fleet of salt trucks and plows were busy clearing roads and sidewalks Tuesday afternoon and into the night.
Vince Sferrazza, the city’s director of transportation operations and maintenance, told CP24 Tuesday evening that crews are still hard at work cleaning up from the storm.
“We've been busy,” Sferrazza said. “We've been out on the streets actually as of last night. We began salting all of our major roads and expressways and overnight, early this morning, we began hitting all of the sidewalks, bicycle lanes, local roads. And the crews are out now. We're more in a cleanup stage, but it's been a very busy day.
While crews have a big task, Sferrazza said the job has been made a little easier by the fact that many people are working from home and respecting a stay-at-home order in effect for the city due to the second wave of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We haven't had the traffic congestion that we normally do, with a lockdown when people are working from home, working remotely,” he said. “We've seen a noticeable difference, and it has made it a little bit easier for our equipment to clear the snow.”
Shortly after 9 p.m., the city said plowing of all roadways, sidewalks and separated bikeways had been completed and that crews would work overnight to salt residential roads and laneways and to clear bus stops.
Still, slick roads did result in a number of collisions and warnings from police to drive with extra caution.
Earlier in the day, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told CP24 officers had responded to 100 crashes in the past 24 hours and were aware of 12 active scenes on GTA highways at 5:30 a.m.
He cautioned drivers getting on GTA highways to be aware that they might not be completely clear of snow and to be mindful of “windrows” of snow that form between lanes.
“Keep your hands on the wheel, stay nice and calm and focused on where you’re trying to go,” he said.
The TTC cancelled all express bus service and streetcar lines experienced some major delays throughout the morning due to the snowfall.
School reopening delayed for some
The storm struck just as schools were set to reopen for in-person learning in Toronto, Peel and York regions, forcing some boards to change their plans.
In Toronto, schools opened but buses were cancelled for the day. Meanwhile, schools in both Peel and York regions were closed, delaying the return of students to classrooms for one more day.
Bitter cold temperatures remain
While the snowfall has stopped, frigid conditions remain.
Bitterly cold temperatures in Toronto prompted the city's medical officer of health to issue an extreme cold weather alert Tuesday. A high of -6 C was expected in Toronto today, but the temperature felt closer to -20 with the wind chill at times.
A low of -16 C is expected overnight, but the wind chill will make it feel -22.
Warming centres are open at four locations across Toronto and additional services have been activated for those experiencing homelessness.
The cold temperatures mean the snow is likely to stick around for a while. Temperatures in Toronto are expected to range between -10 C and – 2 C in Toronto for the rest of the week and more snow is expected on Thursday.