Toronto cleanup continues as winter storm passes

The death of a 72-year-old Etobicoke man is being blamed on the winter storm that blew into the Greater Toronto Area late Wednesday night.

Hundreds of accidents, one death blamed on GTA's 1st major snowfall

The death of a 72-year-old Etobicoke man is being blamed on the winter storm that blew into the Greater Toronto Area late Wednesday night.

The man, who has not been identified, died while shovelling snow at his home near Rathburn Road and The West Mall.

It's the only death reported from the storm, though there were hundreds of minor collisions reported on the region's highways.

"People are still thinking it's still the middle of September or October when we were still nice and dry," said OPP Const. Jay Parashar. "No, we're in December, welcome to winter."

It was business as usual for this cyclist in Toronto's downtown core. (John Rieti/CBC)

Tow truck driver Chase Grainger is enjoying the weather.

"I haven't slept since 6 p.m. last night," he said. "Good times, first snowfall, love it."

By the afternoon, the Canadian Automobile Association said it had received 4,000 calls for help.

Philip Nguyen says the phone at North York Tire Auto hasn't stopped ringing with people looking for snow tires

"People here wait for the last minute to change [tires]," he said.

He said he expects to sell between 300-400 winter tires on Thursday alone and is well-stocked for increased demand..

"We have a warehouse in Markham with 5,000 tires, all-season and winter."

The city sent its fleet of snow removal vehicles onto the streets on Wednesday night, with about 1,000 employees taking part in the effort.

The battle included dumping about 7,000 tonnes of salt on the city's streets.

By Thursday morning, they had done something they didn't do all of last winter: plow side streets.

The expressways and major routes were cleared by mid-afternoon so crews focused on sidewalks and local roads.

Toronto received about 10 centimetres of snow overnight — the biggest snowfall in the city in almost two years.

Adding to the discomfort were winds that topped 70 km/h at times, whipping up the snow and causing difficulty for many drivers.

CBC meteorologist Claire Martin said the worst-hit areas of southern Ontario were outside the GTA, particularly around Hamilton and on the Niagara Peninsula.

"There are heavier amounts literally all around us," she said. "From the Hamilton-Burlington area to the Niagara escarpment … they're approaching the 15-centimetre mark."

About 70 departures and arrivals were cancelled at Pearson International Airport. Travellers were advised to call and check on their flight status before heading to the airport.

The snow that hit southern Ontario was part of a storm that pounded much of the eastern United States.

The system, which spawned Gulf Coast region tornadoes on Christmas Day, pushed through the Upper Ohio Valley and headed into the Northeast Wednesday night.

As it swung northward and continued to track east, the storm brought messy weather to eastern Ontario, Quebec and the east coast.

Not everyone in Toronto was troubled by the snow.

CBC's Charlsie Agro found about 100 people out enjoying a toboggan hill in Riverdale Park.

"It's the winter wonderland everybody here has been waiting for," she reported. "Everyone here is having a fantastic time. Lots of screams of joy. With this much snow in the city, everyone is a kid today."