Cleanup underway after winter storm hits Toronto
Published Thursday, December 27, 2012 5:47AM EST
Last Updated Thursday, December 27, 2012 10:45AM EST
About 200 snow plows have been deployed onto city streets as the cleanup from the biggest winter storm to hit Toronto in nearly two years continues.
According to City of Toronto Director of Transportation Peter Noehammer, most major arteries have already been cleared and the focus is now shifting to side roads and residential streets.
“The plows have been out since about 6 a.m. this morning but it does take about 12 hours or so for all the plows to get around to the 3000 odd kilometres of local side streets we have,” Noehammer told CP24 Thursday morning. “We are working hard and we should have everything cleared by later today.”
Noehammer said plows were on the roads last night as snow blanketed the city and managed to clear both the Gardiner Expressway and the Don Valley Parkway before the morning rush.
Biggest snowfall since 2011
According to Environment Canada, about 15 centimetres of snow fell in downtown Toronto overnight with 10 centimetres reported near Pearson International Airport.
It’s the first snowfall of more than 10 centimetres to be recorded at Pearson since 12.6 centimetres blanketed the area on March 23, 2011.
The conditions were even worse elsewhere in southern Ontario with a snowfall of 30 centimetres reported in Kingston and 20 centimetres reported in Cornwall. A winter storm warning remains in effect for Cornwall and the Ottawa area, however all warnings and special weather statements have been lifted in the Greater Toronto Area as the system moves east.
Overcast skies and a high of -2 C predicted is predicted for Toronto on Thursday with a 40 per cent chance of flurries later in the afternoon.
“From here on in it gets a heck of a lot better,” CP24 Meteorologist Bill Coulter said Thursday morning. “The snow is tapering off as we speak and there will be cloud cover through the mid-day and maybe even some rays of sun.”
Due to the wintery conditions, travellers are being advised to check their flight status online before departing for the airport.
As of 7:30 a.m., about 45 departures and 23 arrivals – roughly nine per cent of the daily total - had been cancelled at Pearson International Airport.
On Wednesday, some 76 departing flights -- roughly 11 per cent of the daily total – were cancelled at Pearson.
Many of those cancellations were because of bad weather conditions in the U.S.
For the latest flight status information, click here.
At Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport there are some delays due to de-icing, but most flights are departing and arriving as scheduled, according to a Porter Airlines spokesperson.
Porter Airlines does however remain under a weather advisory.
Drivers urged to be cautious
Meanwhile, motorists are being urged to use extra caution on the roads, leaving extra time to get to destinations and keeping in mind that road surfaces may be slippery.
“The roads are still a little bit treacherous and we are asking you to take caution,” OPP Const. Linda Wolfe told CP24 Thursday morning. “If you do have to hit the roads, take your time, drive slow and avoid unnecessary lane changes and if you don’t have to be on the roads maybe stay home and enjoy the view out your window.”
Wolfe said traffic levels on Ontario highways are lower than usual, making for safer roads.
However, visibility could be an issue on some highways.
“We don’t have a lot of blowing snow, but the flurries are still coming down so you do need to take extra precautions,” Wolfe said. “Be aware of vehicles that might be stopped in front of you. People are spinning out and there may be a vehicle into a barrier that you are not necessarily expecting.”
Though there have not been any major accidents so far this morning, CAA says they have responded to 800 calls in south central Ontario since midnight.
The estimated wait for CAA service is between 45 minutes and an hour.
“Obviously we are servicing our high priority calls first, such as drivers who are stuck on the side of the road and stranded,” CAA spokesperson Silvana Aceto told CP24. “People are slipping and sliding on the roads and ending up in a ditch or guardrail. We’ve got some minor fender benders.”
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