Most city services were shut down, Confederation College and Lakehead University cancelled classes and exams and the District Health Unit was closed Friday afternoon in Thunder Bay as a winter storm caused dangerous driving conditions.

Thunder Bay Police urged drivers to "to carefully consider whether driving is really necessary today."

"The winds are picking up and the existing snow is being blown around making it very difficult for plows to keep up," police said in a press release.

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Visibility became progressively worse on Friday as a spring blizzard blasted through the Thunder Bay region. (Matt Prokopchuk/CBC)

"There are a good number of the smaller vehicles getting stuck at intersections, and many others are rolling through stop signs, making it very unsafe for all other vehicles."

Police also reported traffic lights were being blown off by gusting winds and electrical wires have come down, creating lots of work for repair crews.

The dangerous driving conditions caused the city to pull its transit buses off the road around noon on Friday.City libraries and child care centres were also closed, even the OLG casino shut its doors.

Storm blew in Thursday

A dump of snow Thursday night closed highways in the east of the region and left many routes around Atikokan, Thunder Bay and roads to the east covered with snow packed, slushy and icy sections.

By late Friday afternoon, provincial police said Highway 17 from Nipigon to Marathon was closed, as well as Highway 11 from Nipigon to Hearst. Highway 584 also remained closed. Most other routes had been re-opened. 

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Social media sites were filled with snowstorm pictures from northwestern Ontario residents, including this one from Instagram user andrew4edward. (Instagram)

Classes were cancelled at Lake Superior High school and Nip-Rock High. Thunder Bay Christian School was also closed. Most students at city schools were already off for a teachers' professional activity day.

Winter storm warning continues

Heavy snow and blowing snow was expected to continue as a large low-pressure weather system originating from Texas tracks along Lake Superior, the city of Thunder Bay reported.

Environment Canada said up to 30 cm of snow fell on Thunder Bay during the storm.

The snow was expected to gradually taper off Friday as the weather system was to move into Quebec.