Heavy snowfall, ice pellets, freezing rain coat Toronto as residents urged to stay off roads

Environment Canada upgraded its weather advisory for Toronto to a snowfall warning. Poor visibility and slippery road conditions were expected.

Environment Canada warned of slippery roads, low visibility, sloppy conditions

Environment Canada upgraded its snowfall advisory for Toronto on Sunday, issuing a snowfall warning for the region. Earlier in the afternoon, the weather agency also issued a travel advisory, warning of slippery roads and low visability at times. (Alan Habbick/CBC)

Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for Toronto and its surrounding regions on Sunday, as flurries, ice pellets and freezing rain coated the city in the first big snowfall of the year. 

As of 1 p.m., Toronto and Brampton had already seen between eight and 11 centimetres of snow. 

In a statement issued later Sunday, the weather agency said heavy snowfall and ice pellets had continued into the evening, further creating "sloppy" and "hazardous" conditions.

It warned as much as 20 centimetres of snow was expected. 

Other areas under a snowfall warning included: 

  • Peel Region.
  • York Region.
  • Halton Region.
  • Durham Region.
  • York Region.
  • Peterborough. 
  • Kawartha Lakes.

City under winter weather travel advisory

Earlier Sunday, the weather agency also issued a winter weather travel advisory for Toronto. 

The rate of snowfall was "quickly accumulating" at times and poor visibility was expected. That created slippery road conditions and was expected to last until midnight Sunday, the federal weather agency said. 

Snowfall amounts were expected to be higher the further one was from Lake Ontario. 

Environment Canada warned that slippery road conditions could last until midnight Sunday. (Alan Habbick)

"Areas near Lake Ontario may switch over to ice pellets and/or rainfall late this afternoon or evening, creating sloppy conditions. Motorists should be prepared for winter weather driving conditions," the federal weather agency said.

It added that a Colorado Low, which was expected to track from Ohio toward the St. Lawrence River on Sunday into Monday, was responsible for brining in the snow.

Cities scramble to clear snow 

The City of Mississauga said in a tweet that it had extended the hours of operation for winter maintenance to help clean-up efforts. 


Meanwhile, Toronto city staff started clean-up efforts on Saturday night in an effort to get ahead of Sunday's snowfall, according to Vincent Sferrazza, director of operations for the city's transportation division.

On Sunday, he said crews had focused on salting roads in Scarborough, North York and Etobicoke because conditions weren't as severe in Toronto's downtown core. 

"We're not seeing the same level of winter activity in downtown Toronto, or by the lakeshore," he said. "But nevertheless we continue to monitor that area." 

As of 1 p.m. Sunday, Toronto and Brampton had already seen between eight and 11 centimetres of snow. (Alan Habbick/CBC)

Sferrazza asked that city residents stay home if they didn't have to go outside. 

"If you do need to go out, we do ask that you do drive slowly and carefully — drive per the conditions of the road," he told CBC Toronto on Sunday. 

He also asked people to stay clear of the city's salt trucks and clear sidewalks in front of their homes. 

"All of us have a role to play," he said. 

Lockdown looming for Toronto, Peel 

Toronto and Peel Region, meanwhile, are scheduled to move into the grey lockdown zone on Monday as the Ontario government tries to curb the spread of COVID-19 in the GTA.

The shutdown will last a minimum of 28 days, equal to two incubation periods for the coronavirus, and will include such restrictions as closing gyms and malls and limiting restaurants to take-out, drive-thru and delivery only.