Slush, rain, snow set up messy commute in GTA
Sandie Benitah and Chris Kitching, cp24.com
Published Wednesday, February 27, 2013 3:38AM EST
Last Updated Wednesday, February 27, 2013 12:50PM EST
Commuters had to contend with a slippery and messy drive in the GTA on Wednesday, as a winter storm dumped snow and rain on the region.
In Toronto, areas north of the downtown core were hit the hardest. At least five centimetres of snow collected on the ground around Yonge Street and Eglinton Avenue by 2:30 a.m. before a snowfall warning was cancelled later in the morning as pedestrians trudged through a slushy mess.
At the storm's peak, Toronto Fire Services responded to several calls for downed trees and hydro wires as strong winds swept through the neighbourhood.
Emergency personnel were called to several crashes.
In Peel Region, a snowplow slammed into a hydro pole at around 1:17 a.m., and the wires came crashing down onto the vehicle.
Police say the driver of the snowplow did not suffer any serious injuries in the crash, which they believe was weather related.
Power outages were reported throughout the Greater Toronto Area.
In Markham, nearly 5,000 customers were without power at one point. Toronto reported 3,500 customers without power and in Mississauga, about 1,855 customers were without power for about two hours late Tuesday night.
All power outages are believed to have been caused because of wet switches or other weather-related hydro issues.
A large accumulation of slush clogged storm drains, creating pockets of floods on major roadways.
A Toronto police official told CP24 the flood pockets on the Queensway were “too many to count.” Floods were also reported on ramps leading to the Gardiner Expressway from the Bayview and Bloor ramp, on Allen Road and along Royal York Road.
Toronto city Coun. Gord Perks tweeted about flooding in his basement early Wednesday morning.
At 1 a.m. he tweeted that he had been cleaning up his basement for two hours. Just before 3 a.m., Perks was a little more light-hearted.
“My skin is pruning,” he tweeted. “I think it’s a metaphor for my house.”
Meanwhile, Peter Noehammer, the city's director of transportation services, said ponding has been the main challenge for cleanup crews.
'We have small machines going from intersection to intersection trying to open drainage ways," he said.
There is little reprieve in the forecast.
Environment Canada is calling for wet snow at times mixed with rain in Toronto with temperatures hovering above the freezing mark. Wednesday night will see more wet snow and about another 2 centimetres of accumulation.
Up to 20 cm of snow is possible for parts of the GTA, but there will be less snow close to Lake Ontario, where about five to 10 cm is expected. At 8:15 a.m., Environment Canada said 10 centimetres of snow had fallen at Pearson International Airport in Mississauga.
Motorists are being reminded to drive with caution and be prepared for a slow commute.
Police are telling drivers to slow down, leave extra room between vehicles just in case they are forced to come to a sudden stop, and give themselves extra time to arrive at their destination.
Motorists should also top up their fuel and windshield washer fluid, and have a fully-charged cellphone in their vehicle. A spokesperson for CAA said they responded to more than 1,750 calls from stranded drivers by 11 a.m.
TTC makes preparations
The Toronto Transit Commission took steps to ensure a smooth ride for commuters Wednesday morning.
Fifty per cent of subway trains were kept in tunnels overnight to prevent delays out of subway yards in the morning, and a de-icing agent was applied to the power rail by "storm cars" to prevent the build-up of snow and ice, which could also cause delays.
“Storm cars” were also used on streetcar lines throughout the city to prevent the potential freezing of switches.
@SandieBenitah and @Chris Kitching are on Twitter. For instant breaking news, follow @cp24 on Twitter.