ontario-weather-070115

Fender benders abounded as commuters in the GTA braved the first storm of the year. ((CBC))

Freezing rain and snow hitting the Greater Toronto Areahave caused treacherous driving conditions and delays or cancellations of dozens of flights out of Pearson International Airport.

About 200accidents were reported Monday morning across the region, Ontario Provincial Police said. There were no serious injuries. By lateafternoon, that number had risen to about 500.

Most of the crashes involved single vehicles that went into the ditch or hit guardrails after spinningout of control on sheets of slushy ice pellets, police said.

"It's like driving on ball bearings," OPP Sgt. Cam Woolley said.

Police closed a section of Highway 400, south of Highway 407, shortly after noon, after a northbound tractor-trailercarrying compressed liquid oxygencollided with a minivan and flipped onto its side.

Woolley said the cargo would be transferred to another tanker. Police warned motoriststo avoid the area during the cleanup.

"Some of the product is leaking out. There is some explosion risk to this," Woolley said.

The highway was expected to remain closed in both directions until around 2 a.m. ETTuesday, police said.

Flights delayed, cancelled

The Greater Toronto Airport Authority said almost 50 departing flights and 60 arriving flightshave been cancelled. Travellers are advised tocall ahead to check on their flight status.

A band of freezing rain, stretchingfromSarnia and London in southwestern Ontario, east toCornwall, was first reported around 2:30 a.m. ET.

The OPP shut down a stretch of Highway 401 overnight in Cambridge due to several accidents, but the highway was reopened.

Between five and 10 millimetres of icewere expected to accumulate on roads, trees and power linesbynoon, forecasters said.

About 20,000 Hydro customersnear Lake Erie in Norfolk County were without power.

Morning commute difficult

People riding transit faced major delays throughout the GTA. Delaysof up toan hour were reported for users of GO trains and buses during the morning rush hour.

Most schools in the affected regions were open, but most buses were cancelled, so schools were almost empty.

School buses were cancelled in the Toronto area and several other regions to the east, northand west, includingLondon and StratfordandBruce and Grey counties.

There was alsosnow and ice to the north, east and west of Toronto.