TORONTO -- Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement and a winter weather travel advisory for Toronto and much of the GTA due to frigid, windy conditions that could make driving hazardous.

“Strong northwesterly winds gusting up to 80 km/h will continue for a few more hours before diminishing this evening,” the agency said Monday evening. “These winds may throw loose objects, cause tree branches to break and damage property. Power outages are also possible.”

Environment Canada also warned that periods of blowing snow and heavy snow could create poor visibility on some roads. Blowing snow in Barrie created whiteout conditions Monday afternoon, leading to a 15-car pileup that shut down a long stretch of the busy highway.

Hydro companies around the GTA advised customers to keep their phones charged in case of power outages, but no major disruptions had been reported as of 7:30 p.m.

Frigid temperatures are also expected tonight and into Wednesday.

Following a taste of warmer weather over the weekend, Toronto’s medical officer of health issued an extreme cold weather alert Monday as frigid conditions settled in over the city.

While the temperature is forecast to hover around -9 C in Toronto tonight, wind chill values of -20 are expected this evening, shifting to around -14 overnight.

The bitter cold will persist into Tuesday morning but things will warm up as the day progresses. A high of 0 C is expected, though the wind chill will make it feel like -14 in the morning.

A high of 5 C is expected in Toronto on Wednesday, according to the national weather agency.

During the extreme cold weather alert, a number of additional cold-weather services are triggered for vulnerable residents and those experiencing homelessness.

Warming centres opened tonight at 7 p.m. at several locations across the city and will remain operational while the alert is in effect.

Residents of the city are urged to reschedule outdoor activities and dress in layers when venturing outdoors.