Toronto hit with freezing temperatures, frustrating weather

It wasn’t easy for anyone taking a trip in Toronto and surrounding areas on Monday, whether they were driving on icy roads, catching flights or simply trying to stay upright on slippery sidewalks.

Slushy roads, sidewalks frozen solid after rapid temperature drop Monday

It wasn’t easy for anyone taking a trip in Toronto and surrounding areas on Monday, whether they were driving on icy roads, catching flights or simply trying to stay upright on slippery sidewalks.

The trouble began the night before, as a combination of snow and rain made the roads messy, while temperatures slowly began falling.

As the clock hit midnight on Sunday, the temperature stood at the freezing mark in Toronto, but was in sub-zero territory as drivers headed into work.

Throughout the day, there were accidents all over the Greater Toronto Area, including on a highway in Barrie, Ont., where a transport truck went through a median and crossed into oncoming traffic.

The Canadian Automobile Association said it was dealing with twice the normal number of calls from its members on Monday. It expected that surge to continue as the temperature stays well below zero on Tuesday.

“Likely those calls will be for those people who are experiencing battery-related issues,” said CAA spokesperson Silvana Aceto.

Flight, school bus cancellations

The winter weather also led to sporadic school bus cancellations across the GTA, but not any reported school closures.

But at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, hundreds of arriving and departing flights had been cancelled by the end of the day.

The cancellations meant passengers on many arriving flights had to wait hours for an available gate.

"There's no shortage of horror stories here at Terminal One this morning, with some waiting three or four hours on the tarmac," the CBC’s Linda Ward reported on Monday.

One family Ward spoke with waited in a plane for 4½ hours after arriving on a flight from Cuba.

"Passengers are telling me their planes couldn't get to the gate because of so many cancelled flights," Ward said.

'Here we go again'

The City of Toronto had sent some 200 salt trucks out the night before the Monday morning commute, in a bid to limit the problems on area roads and highways.

This sign was displayed in the window of a Home Depot near St. Clair Avenue and Keele Street. It was among many stores on Monday that had no salt left to sell to customers. (Trevor Dunn/CBC)

And while the city says it has the salt supplies it needs for now, there are many stores in Toronto that have simply sold out.

For homeowner Brad Esau, who was outside clearing his driveway on Monday, it was just a case of Mother Nature handing the city another dose of harsh winter weather.

"I said to my wife — she was still in bed — I said, ‘Here we go again. I better go down and get the generator,’" he said.

The mercury continued to plunge throughout the day, hitting the negative double-digits by the supper hour and much lower than that as the evening progressed.

The city issued an extreme cold weather alert on Monday, which triggers an expansion of services made available to help those living on the streets to stay warm.

Extra shelter spaces are made available during an extreme cold weather alert and outreach efforts are increased on city streets.

The city has also opened a warming centre in the rotunda area of Metro Hall, which is located at 55 John St. It will remain open for the duration of the alert.

With files from the CBC's Amanda Marigson, Tony Smyth and Linda Ward


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