Ontario Provincial Police are once again advising people to stay off the roads if you don’t have to travel as highways around the province continue to experience problems due to whiteout conditions.

“It is still a pretty challenging day outside of the GTA and wherever you’re travelling, if you have to travel, understand how quickly conditions can change,” OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “We are still asking people to eliminate or stop unnecessary travel. I know it’s Christmas, but I just don’t want people getting stuck waiting for help because it could be sometime before it arrives.”

While Toronto and many surrounding areas escaped this week’s winter storm without too much precipitation, snow amounts have been higher in other parts of the province and blustery conditions have made driving hazardous.

The Peace Bridge border crossing to the United States reopened Sunday evening after being closed for most of the day due to the poor conditions.

There were also a number of closures on major highways around the province Saturday, continuing into Sunday.

Some of those problems began to ease up Sunday afternoon, but conditions remain treacherous in many areas.

“The 402 is being reopened right now between Sarnia and London. Highway 401 is open between Prescott and the Quebec border, Schmidt said in an update. “We still have problems between Northumberland and Prescott on the 401 in both directions. Highway 11 up towards Wawa in northern Ontario, we still have road closures in there.”

There are other problems on Highway 400 and Highway 11 around cottage country, Schmidt said, with some closures in place on highways and other roads, due to blowing snow and whiteout conditions.

“There are still delays really right across the province,” Schmidt said. 

He said police are also struggling to respond to high volume of 911 calls from around the province.

“We are struggling to get to those calls for service and obviously we do need to get the highways open for everyone, but obviously the priorities are for emergency response – paramedics and fire.”

He said responding to vehicles in trouble on the highway is also dangerous for emergency crews in conditions were there is poor to zero visibility.

“That is dangerous for everybody, for first responders and the public alike,” Schmidt said. “So to prevent those secondary crashes from continuing to pile up into the back of other vehicles, those highways will be shut down. It all depends on the road conditions, the weather conditions, and whatever the situation is on the ground right there.”

He advised people to check road conditions and closures along their entire route before heading out if they do have to drive.

Holiday travel has also been difficult for those getting around by plane or train this season. Weather problems around the country led to many people getting stranded at Pearson this week and passengers on Via Rail trains were stuck for almost 24 hours after branches came down on trains and tracks yesterday.

The problems prompted Via Rail to cancel all trains between Toronto and Ottawa and Toronto and Montreal on both Christmas Day and Boxing Day.

Frigid temperatures remained in place around the province Sunday. Toronto sat at -5 C Sunday, though it feels more like -15 with the wind chill.