Snowstorm shuts down London, Ont.
Crashes close westbound Highway 401 for hours
Canadians getting a blast of stormy weather this week can be thankful they're not living in the snowed-under communities of southwestern Ontario, east of Lake Huron.
The London area has received about a metre of snow since the weekend, with five to 10 centimetres in the forecast for Wednesday.
Winter doesn't officially arrive for two weeks, but the city is already digging out from a record-setting snowfall. People have seen double the amount of snow considered normal for the entire month of December.
"Well, it's 100-plus centimetres of snow inside of two days. That's a record in terms of that period of time and probably about half of what we'd get all winter," newly elected London Mayor Joe Fontana said.
As of 6 a.m. ET, Lucan, to the north of London, recorded 153 centimetres of snow for the week. Forecasters said the small community will probably receive up to 10 centimetres more before the day is over.
There will be a break in snowfall on Thursday. However, a fast-moving storm dubbed the Alberta Clipper from the Prairies will sweep through the region on Friday, bringing with it another 10 centimetres of snow.
Injuries in multi-vehicle accident
Driving was very dangerous on many roads because of high winds. An Environment Canada snow squall watch was issued for London, as well as St. Thomas and eastern Elgin County.
Police reported non-life-threatening injuries after a multi-vehicle accident closed the westbound lanes of Highway 401 near Ingersoll, east of London, around 10:30 a.m.
Seven tractor-trailers and up to four other vehicles were involved in the crash, police said.
Despite treacherous roads and the work involved in cleaning up streets and sidewalks, Fontana said he would not declare a state of emergency. However, he said most public services were shut down and officials were asking people to stay off the roads.
Schools in London were closed again Wednesday and city officials said there would be no public transit until at least Thursday. All schools in Middlesex and Elgin counties were also closed.
Other communities pitch in to help
In January 1999, Toronto called in troops to help clear the streets after a series of storms dumped a record snowfall of 118.4 centimetres in less than two weeks. Some Canadians poked fun at the city when images of armoured vehicles arriving were broadcast across the country.
"So we didn't need the army. We didn't need to call in the emergency, and for that, I'm very, very thankful," Fontana said, adding that skies were starting to clear in the afternoon.
The mayor said London had the co-operation of other municipalities, support from the police and all community services, and figured it could "get the job done."
Officials in Sarnia said they would be sending snowplows to London. More reinforcements were on the way from Ingersoll, Woodstock, Stratford, Guelph and other communities.
"We asked businesses to keep their employees home. We told people to stay home, stay put, be with their families," he said. "It's been a tough two or three days, but we've managed to come together as a city and come through it."
Snow, water make for messy roads in Montreal
Elsewhere in the country, Montreal is coping with its own dump of snow over the past three days.
The city has put in place its Level 2 snow-clearing plan, which kicks in when more than 30 centimetres have fallen. It means parking is banned on six major city streets to allow easier access for emergency vehicles, snowplows and buses.
Thousands of workers were expected to be on the streets Wednesday, removing the snow.
An estimated 40 centimetres have has fallen since Monday, and several more were in the forecast for Wednesday.
Driving is particularly dangerous in areas where water mains have broken because of a sudden dip in temperatures.