Here's the latest on how the winter storm is impacting the London, Ont. area

The winter storm is underway around London, Ont., with whiteouts reported outside city limits and slippery roads making driving conditions difficult across the region. Sections of Highway 401 are closed west of London, along with closures on the 402.

Blowing snow, strong winds hit as major winter storm sweeps southwestern Ontario

People walk through blizzard conditions on Dundas Place in London, Ont.
People huddle against the cold on an icy Dundas Place, as a major winter storm, bringing high winds and lake effect snow, descended on Southern Ontario Friday. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

The latest:

  • Multiple highway road closures. Details below. 
  • Most flights into and out of London International airport are cancelled. WestJet suspends all flights out of Pearson on Friday saying weather situation across Canada "unlike anything we've experienced."
  • School boards across southwestern Ontario are closed to students Friday.

The winter storm is underway around London, Ont., with whiteouts reported outside of city limits and slippery roads making driving conditions difficult across the region. 

Environment Canada has warned this weather system could impact weekend holiday plans with all emergency officials telling drivers to stay off the road. 

Widespread power outages are also possible, Environment Canada said.

  • If the power or data on your device is low, get your storm updates on CBC Lite. It's our low-bandwidth, text-only website.

Hydro One, Ontario's largest electricity utility, has said teams are prepared to respond to any outages. Toronto Hydro has reminded customers to refresh their emergency kits and said additional crews are ready to support customers through the weekend.

The city is prepared

Early Friday, snow plows and salt trucks were out with plans to be working around the clock. The city's manager of road operations asked drivers to give plows the right of way, so they can get the job done.

"We have 24 hours after the snow ends to get everything cleared up and we're going to get continued snowfall today and into the evening. So we'll be cleaning this up well into Saturday and likely Sunday," said John Parsons. 

Road conditions

A scene of carnage including debris and destroyed vehicles strewn across the shoulder and side of the highway
OPP Cst. Jeff Hare says the 401/402 corridor is the site of one of the worst traffic scenes he's ever seen. (OPP)

Police reported multiple collisions on Highways 401 and 402 Friday that's shut down major sections of the highway. Rural roads are also closed in some areas. 

  • Middlesex OPP have responded to a 50- to 60-vehicle pileup on Highway 402 at Kerwood Road.
  • Highway 402 was closed in both directions between Sarnia and London, according to provincial police.
  • Highway 401 was closed in both directions between Tilbury and London.
  • Multiple vehicles were involved in a collision at the Highway 401-Highway 402 split, south of London.
  • Police closed all roads in Perth County and Huron County.
  • Fire crews were on scene on Highway 401 westbound at Iona Road and Currie Road, where the highway was closed for a collision involving multiple tractor trailers and vehicles.
  • Highway 4 from Clinton to Teeswater was closed at 12:30 p.m.
  • For the latest on OPP road closures and reopenings, visit their Twitter profile here.

Const. Jeffery Hare, OPP West Region spokesperson, advised all drivers to ensure their lights are turned on and that they have a full tank of fuel, in case they get stopped.

Drivers on the road during the morning commute reported trips typically lasting 10 minutes turned into 45-minute trips, with blowing snow and ice. Most people who had been out cautioned others to stay home, if possible.

Fire crews are responding to a multi-vehicle collision on Hwy 401 between Iona and Currie roads
Fire crews are responding to a multi-vehicle collision on Hwy 401 between Iona and Currie roads (OPP)

The London Transit Commission (LTC) is running as usual, with passengers warned to expect delays. 

"If conditions deteriorate so the buses are not able to navigate, we'll make the decision to reduce service. The first step would be to not travel on side streets. But we'll be monitoring across the day," said Kelly Paleczny, general manager at the LTC.

Air travel

People with plans to board airplanes out of London won't be going anywhere, as flights out of the city were cancelled. Those to Mexico were still posted to leave Friday morning, with airport officials telling ticket holders to check the flight status.

WestJet cancelled all flights arriving and departing from Toronto's Pearson International Airport on Friday. The cancellations began at 9 a.m. ET and will last until the end of the day. The airline said a "restart" depends on weather conditions by Saturday. 

Cars driving in whiteout conditions
The message Friday was to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Whiteout conditions were present on the morning commute as people slowly travelled along snowbound streets like Riverside Drive in London, Ont. (Colin Butler/CBC News)

"The prolonged and extreme weather events that continue to impact multiple regions across Canada are unlike anything we've experienced," said Diederik Pen, WestJet's chief operations officer, said in a statement on Thursday night.

Warming centres open

The London Public Library is welcoming Londoners to stay warm inside during regular hours of operations.

The following community centres also opened Friday as warming centres. 

  • Stronach Arena located at 1221 Sanford Street (9 a.m. to 7:30 p.m.).
  • Medway Arena located at 119 Sherwood Forest Square (7 a.m. to 7 p.m.).
  • Earl Nichols Arena located at 799 Homeview Road (8 a.m. to 10 p.m.).