Environment Canada is warning that frigid temperatures and blowing snow will persist across the GTA and Ontario through Saturday as a winter storm system continues to move across the region.

While a winter storm warning has ended for the GTA, a weather advisory remains in place, with frigid temperatures expected to persist. Toronto sat at -14 C Saturday morning, though it feels more like -26 with the wind chill.

Environment Canada warned that strong wind gusts of 70 to 80 km/h could result in a sudden reduction of visibility due to flurries and blowing snow. The city could also see extreme cold wind chills around -30, as well as an accumulation of snow due to blowing snow on road surfaces.

Winter storm warnings remain in place for many other parts of Ontario.

Travel conditions could be dangerous because of the conditions, the agency said.

“Travel may be hazardous due to sudden changes in the weather. Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions,” the statement read. “If visibility is reduced while driving, slow down, watch for tail lights ahead and be prepared to stop. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.”


Ontario Provincial Police said Saturday that they have experienced a very high number of collisions around the province over the past 24 hours and urged people not to head out on the roads if they don’t need to.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said that while conditions might look fine heading out, they won’t necessarily stay that way for the whole route.

“Please avoid unnecessary travel. This is for everyone's safety,” Schmidt said. “Before you head out, make sure you understand where you're starting from. For example, here in the GTA conditions look great, whereas the conditions may change and deteriorate rapidly (as you drive) and you could become disoriented or lost due to detours or road closures and start driving in unfamiliar areas. So please, we're asking everyone; consider your travel plans. Wait until the system is clear. Wait until the highways are reopened, wait until all the plows and salters have done their work clearing these roads before you head out.”

Niagara Regional Police Service also put out a statement saying the region is experiencing blizzard and whiteout conditions and urged people to stay off the roads.

CAA South Central Ontario said they are experiencing “an extremely high demand for service due to the weather, and road closures” and also asked people to stay off the roads if possible.

“Our network is working at full capacity while we prioritize emergency calls and members in unsafe situations,” the organization said in a statement. “Members waiting in safety at home or at work may experience longer than expected wait times.”


The nasty conditions are part of a storm system that has gripped North America, shutting down bridges in Niagara Falls and wiping out hydro power to thousands of customers in Quebec.

The storm began as rain on Thursday and transitioned into snow Friday.

While the city was bracing for a wallop, there was far less snow than expected.

“I’m not sure if there's any such thing as a lunch bag letdown when it comes to a storm because if there's a storm that is less intensive than expected, this is very good news for people who have to clean it up and for people who are trying to look out for our most vulnerable people,” Mayor John Tory said at a morning update on the cleanup efforts Saturday. “But there's no question that the storm and the amount of snow in particular was much less intensive than was expected.” 

According to environment Canada, Toronto saw about 2 cm of snow fall Friday. However the frigid temperatures quickly froze the rainfall that preceded it, making conditions slippery. Strong winds also continue to make getting around hazardous.

“I think the advice from yesterday still prevails, that is to please stay home whenever you can because it just makes it more safe for you and it makes it easier for all of the crews to continue to deal with the work that they have to deal with whether it be snow clearing operations or whether it be hydro,” Tory said.

The city has also declared an extreme cold weather alert and has opened warming centres at Scarborough Civic Centre (150 Borough Dr.); Metro Hall (55 John St.), and Mitchell Field Community Centre (89 Church Ave.).

Tory said that while the TTC functioned quite well through the storm, the Scarborough RT remains shut down and is being replaced with bus service. Ferry service to the Toronto islands is also suspended, but Tory said that could change through the day.

Barbara Gray, General Manager of Transportation Services, said strong winds are making it especially challenging to keep bike lanes and sidewalks clear, but the machines are out.

“The operators have indicated to me today that as they as they plow them, they look behind them and the wind blows the snowpack over them,” Gray said. “So I know it will in some places look like they haven't been tended to, but we have definitely done at least one round of plowing and salting on bike lanes and we will continue to do that as well as continue to monitor the streets for for locations that we need to get to.”


The messy weather has also complicated travel plans for tens of thousands of people travelling for the Christmas weekend. WestJet cancelled flights at Pearson on Friday due to the storm and there have been reports of lengthy delays for train travel, as well as hazardous conditions for those driving.

Passengers on a number of Via Rail trains told CP24 that they had been stuck on the trains for as long as 18 hours and counting due to problems on the tracks.

In an update posted Saturday afternoon on its website, Via Rail annouced the cancellation of 24 train routes, including 60, 50, 41, 61, 62, 52, 40, 65, 67, 64, 42, 44, 66, 46, 68, 54, 45, 65, 53, 47, 645, 55, 69, and 59, due to "extreme weather conditions and resulting consequences out of our control."

The storm has also resulted in a number of delays, they said. 

Toronto Pearson International Airport said close to 40 per cent of incoming and departing flights were cancelled Friday. The airport is advising passengers to check their travel status before heading out to the airport.

Toronto is expected to see periods of light snow Saturday, ending near noon. Then it will be mainly cloudy with a 40 per cent chance of flurries.

A high of -6 C is expected today, though it will feel more like -16 this afternoon due to the wind chill.

The temperature is expected to hover between -10 and -3 through Tuesday, rising to a high of 2 C on Wednesday.