Toronto

Heavy snow hits Toronto as winter storm disrupts travel, leading to cancelled flights, car crashes

A winter storm brought heavy snow and freezing rain to Toronto, leaving cancelled flights, slippery roads and vehicle crashes in its wake.

Storm system covered area from Windsor to Ottawa, Environment Canada says

People walk down Front Street in downtown Toronto during the snowstorm on January 25, 2023.
People walk down Front Street in downtown Toronto during the snowstorm on Wednesday. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

A winter storm brought heavy snow and freezing rain to Toronto on Wednesday and into Thursday, leaving cancelled flights, slippery roads and vehicle crashes in its wake.

Environment Canada said 10 centimetres of snow fell at Toronto's Pearson International Airport between 11 a.m. and 8 p.m. Wednesday. The federal weather agency said 15 centimetres was reported in Brampton, 16 centimetres in Oakville and 15 centimetres in Whitby over that same time period. 

The forecast had called for between 15 to 20 centimetres to fall in the Greater Toronto Area.

An additional two to four centimetres could fall in the GTA between 8 p.m. and early Thursday, according to the federal weather agency.

"It was a significant event," Yoseph Mengesha, severe weather meteorologist for Environment Canada, told CBC Toronto on Wednesday night.

"It covered quite a wide area, all the way from Windsor into Ottawa."

The federal weather agency said the snow is expected to taper off to flurries by this morning.

Toronto police urge drivers to slow down because of slippery roads on Jan. 25, 2023.
Toronto police urge drivers to slow down because of slippery roads. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Hundreds of flights cancelled at Pearson

Pearson Airport reported on its website that more than 26 per cent of its departures and more than 27 per cent of its arrivals were cancelled by airlines on Wednesday.

"Delays and cancellations are expected so please check your flight status with your airline," the airport said.

According to the Ontario Provincial Police, plows and salting trucks were out in force but the difficult conditions led to crashes.

"We have problems really all across the GTA," OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said on Twitter.

Schmidt reported a transport truck jackknifed on Highway 400 southbound, near King Road, blocking three left lanes on Wednesday evening.

A flight board at Pearson International Airport shows multiple flight cancellations.
A flight board at Pearson International Airport shows multiple flight cancellations. (Jonathan Castell/CBC)

Toronto police reported scores of minor crashes and urged drivers to slow down, use extra caution and leave extra time to get to their destinations.

"There are plows and salters out on the roadways, but we are receiving a significant amount of reports of minor collisions, people sliding through intersections or sliding down or being stuck on hills within the city," Const. Laura Brabant said. 

Brabant said police had been asking everyone to stay home if they can unless it is an emergency. If residents do have to go out, they are urged to make sure their vehicles are fit for the road.

Ontario Premier Doug Ford also urged people to stay at home on Wednesday, saying on Twitter: "Please avoid driving unless absolutely necessary."

A TTC bus slides in snow.
A TTC bus slid down the road on Eglinton Avenue East on Wednesday. (Submitted by Al Stewart)

Line 3 and 41 bus stops out of service, TTC says

Meanwhile, GO Transit says it was operating on "a reduced and adjusted schedule to ensure reliability and safety for passengers."

The TTC said that the storm was "likely to make surface travel challenging."

Line 3, also known as the Scarborough SRT, was closed. Shuttle buses were operating between Kennedy and McCowan stations.

The TTC also said that 41 bus stops located in hilly areas that are "difficult for buses to navigate in snow" had been taken out of service as of 1:15 p.m. on Wednesday.

School buses cancelled in York, Halton regions on Thursday

The public school boards in York and Halton regions, as well as the Catholic board in York, said school buses are cancelled for Thursday but schools will remain open.

At YRDSB, in-person exams will not occur on Jan 26, but virtual school exams continue as scheduled.

A pedestrian crosses Wellington Street West at Simcoe Street on Jan. 25, 2023.
A pedestrian crosses Wellington Street West at Simcoe Street on Wednesday. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

City closes libraries, zoo, recreational programs

The City of Toronto closed community recreation centres and indoor arenas at 6 p.m. All instructional, drop-in programming and permits were cancelled as of 4:30 p.m., the city said in a news release.

After-school programs and facilities with child care will remain open until all participants are picked up. Artificial outdoor ice sink leisure programs will continue but instructional programming and skate lending are cancelled.

Toronto Public Library branches and buildings closed at 4:30 p.m., while the Toronto Zoo closed at 2 p.m.

More snow expected Sunday

On Wednesday afternoon, the city said salting operations had begun across the city, while sidewalk, separated bike lane and bus stop clearing had started in Scarborough.

"The city is monitoring the weather forecast and road conditions and is deploying crews and equipment as required," the city said in the release.

The city said plowing will start once the snow reaches 2.5 centimetres on expressways, five centimetres on major roads, transit routes and streets with hills, and eight centimetres on residential streets.

A pedestrian crosses a street at the start of a significant snowstorm in uptown Toronto on Jan. 25, 2023.
A pedestrian crosses a street at the start of a snowstorm in uptown Toronto Wednesday. (Evan Mitsui/CBC)

Vincent Sferrazza, maintenance and operations director with transportation services, said he expects the storm could necessitate six to eight rounds of plowing on major arterial roads and up to three rounds on local streets.

"This is going to take a few days, going into the weekend," he says. "It's all hands on deck, we are ready to go."

Sferrazza added that some snow removal will likely be required as well. That work would begin over the weekend and continue into next week.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.

Become a CBC Member

Join the conversation  Create account

Already have an account?

now