Eastern storm interrupts Winnipeg flights

A winter storm pounding southern Ontario and parts of the U.S. is having repercussions in Winnipeg.
John Street in Toronto sees a dump of snow Thursday, ahead of a major snow system expected to hit the area. Evan Mitsui/CBC

A winter storm pounding southern Ontario and parts of the U.S. is having repercussions in Winnipeg.

Travelers heading east are urged to check arrivals and departures online at Winnipeg's James A. Richardson International Airport.

"If there was a flight that was supposed to come from Toronto to Winnipeg today, that aircraft is not here," said Christine Payne with the Winnipeg Airports Authority.

"The Winnipeg to Toronto portion doesn’t exist out of Winnipeg anymore, so it’s that ripple effect," said Payne.

There have already been several cancellations and many delays.

Air Canada said the airline will be waiving change fees for travellers who can't get to their destinations due to the storm.

Manitoban Mike Harding was supposed to travel from Toronto to Winnipeg Friday, but instead his flight was grounded by the storm.

Harding said he’s watched the list of grounded flights get longer and longer and with it, line-ups of people trying to rebook their flights.

Visibility at the airport is so poor, Harding decided to stay put in an airport lounge.

"I’m not sure I can get out of the airport. I’m not sure I can find a hotel in the vicinity that’s open and even if I can, I’m not sure I can get a taxi that would take me there," said Harding.

Harding said there are even lineups to get into the lounge at the airport.

It's expected the storm will deliver the Greater Toronto Area's most significant snowfall in five years.

CBC meteorologist Claire Martin said the last time Toronto experienced similar snow accumulations was Feb. 6, 2008, when 30.4 centimetres hit the city.

The storm will also affect areas of the United States.

Former Winnipegger Colleen Baker now lives just outside of Boston and is bracing for close to a metre of heavy wet snow on the east coast.

Baker said a number of people in her community didn’t go to work Thursday and instead shopped for necessities.

"We have a well, so we are braced with lots of water," said Baker.

She said her family has filled her bath tubs with drinking water and plan to use their two fire places if the power goes out.

"My kids and I are just going to hunker down and hopefully tomorrow just have a fun day playing in the snow," said Baker.

She added the snow in Boston is often quite different from what she saw while she lived in Winnipeg. She said it’s a lot heavier and wetter and is often very difficult to shovel.