Sudden temperature drop brings an icy cold morning to the GTA
Toronto police responded to 63 collisions in last 12 hours, many of them single-vehicle
A significant cold front moved into the Greater Toronto Area overnight, creating dangerously icy conditions on some roads that are expected to last throughout the morning on Friday.
The frozen temperatures also caused a water main on Lake Shore Boulevard West to burst, creating a headache for drivers heading out of the city during the morning rush hour.
Temperatures plummeted to around -8 C in the early morning hours, though the wind chill made it feel significantly colder, about -16. There's a high of -2 C expected for the day with scattered flurries that will sputter out by mid-morning at the latest, according to Environment Canada.
An extreme cold weather alert issued by the City of Toronto on Thursday will be officially terminated at noon.
The sudden drop in temperatures overnight created problems for drivers. Const. Clint Stibbe, with Toronto police traffic services, said that officers responded to some 63 collisions over a 12-hour period. Some 45 collisions involved reports of property damage, while 18 included personal injuries.
Most of the incidents occurred in the northwestern, northern and northeastern parts of the city near the 401.
"We ended up with essentially a flash freeze-type situation, where there was ice on the roadways and obviously it led to some collisions," said Stibbe. "But we need to keep in mind that it wasn't ice causing collisions, it was driver error."
One particular issue, according to Stibbe, is drivers' over-reliance on new technology to keep them safe on the roads.
"Quite honestly we've seen some cases where individuals don't actually know what to do. The reality is, you still have to know how to respond when the vehicle starts to act a certain way."
Commuters could continue to face issues during the morning rush hour, as well, as forecasters predict wind gusts of up to 60 km/h could create blowing snow and reduce visibility for motorists and cyclists.
For those heading into the city, a substantial water main break has closed Lake Shore Boulevard W between Marine Parade Drive and Palace Pier Court. Police are advising drivers to avoid the area entirely if possible.
Stibbe said that drivers need to keep in mind that conditions are only going to get worse as winter approaches.
<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Barrie?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#Barrie</a> Ontario, tonight... <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WinterHasArrived?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#WinterHasArrived</a><br>Give yourself extra time in the morning to clear your vehicle of ice and snow.<a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/SeeSnowGoSlow?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#SeeSnowGoSlow</a> <a href="https://t.co/iPNA7FWyts">pic.twitter.com/iPNA7FWyts</a>—@OPP_HSD
"Just take a breath. Slow it down. Because when the weather changes, you have to change your driving habits as well."
OPP were also warning commuters to slow down and leave extra time for the morning commute.
"Most of the time, the collisions we experience are single-vehicle collisions, drivers taking on ramps and off ramps too fast or possibly following too close," said Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, with the OPP's highway safety division.
"It really comes down the driver being alert and attentive."
Lakeshore Blvd W is now CLOSED between Marine Parade Dr & Palace Pier Crt. Information received indicates that this morning there may also be a "solidarity picket" at The Ontario Food Terminal, located at Park Lawn Rd & The Queensway. Please plan your route accordingly. ^ma <a href="https://t.co/0y1UAj20cl">https://t.co/0y1UAj20cl</a>—@TPSOperations