Wet mix of rain, freezing rain, snow lashes Toronto

A wet mix of rain, freezing rain and snow lashed Toronto on Thursday, making for slippery streets and messy commutes.

Much of the city saw a mix of snow and rain Thursday morning and afternoon and it remains under a winter weather travel advisory.

Environment Canada said Toronto could expect between five and 10 centimetres of snow. Lesser amounts were expected near Lake Ontario.

The snow was expected to taper off to flurries or drizzle later Thursday evening, with periods of snow or rain mixed with drizzle forecast for Friday morning. 

Toronto police said there were six major collisions related to the weather between 12 noon and 5 p.m., a number that they said was less than anticipated. No one suffered serious injuries, according to Const. Alex Li, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service.

Li said there was flooding reported on the southbound and northbound lanes in various parts of the Don Valley Parkway. There was pooling of water in areas, but no need to close the expressway. The southbound Kipling Avenue on-ramp to westbound Gardiner Expressway is flooded.

“If you don’t have to travel, we suggest that you do stay home,” Li said.

A power outage has been reported in eastern Scarborough. Toronto Hydro said it affects customers from Sheppard Avenue to Lake Ontario and Meadowvale Road to Rouge Hills Drive.

“Crews have been dispatched and we’ll provide more information as it becomes available,” Toronto Hydro said in a tweet.

Meanwhile, areas farther north and east of the city remain under snowfall or freezing rain warnings, with Environment Canada warning drivers to prepare for hazardous conditions.

Parts of Durham Region, including Pickering, Oshawa, Uxbridge and Beaverton, could see between 15 and 20 centimetres of snow, Environment Canada said.

A number of school boards in the GTA cancelled bus service for the day, though schools remained open for in-person learning. 

Pearson International Airport and GO Transit both told passengers to check ahead for possible disruptions. The weather led to the delay or cancellation of several flights at Pearson.

A person holding an umbrella crosses a street in rainy weather.
A person walks in rainy weather along Toronto’s King Street West Thursday morning. The rain was expected to turn into snow as the day progressed. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

Metrolinx spokesperson Matt Llewellyn said GO Transit has reduced schedules for Lakeshore West, Kitchener, Barrie and Milton routes and stop all express trains on Thursday.

In Toronto, all subway service on the Line 3 Scarborough line has stopped due to the weather. Shuttle buses are running between Kennedy and McCowan Stations. However, the TTC has also stopped service at 41 bus stops to “prevent buses from getting stuck on known icy trouble spots on hills,” according to a tweet.

The city, meanwhile, says it has opened three warming centres for vulnerable people and those experiencing homelessness at Scarborough Civic Centre, Metro Hall and Mitchell Field Community Field.

Steven Flisfeder, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada, said a low-pressure system travelling from the U.S., known as the Colorado low, brought the wintry weather to Ontario.

Flisfeder said the weather was not historic but “definitely impactful” and “a little atypical” due to how it interacted with another similar system from the eastern U.S.

Snowfall will fall in peaks and valleys in southern Ontario, dumping up to 20 centimetres in southeastern regions by Friday night, and up to 25 cm in northeastern regions by Saturday morning, according to Flisfeder.

City ‘100%’ prepared to clear snow

Vincent Sferrazza, the City of Toronto’s director of operations and maintenance, said crews began applying liquid salt brine to high-priority intersections, hills, bridges and highways overnight. He said the city has about 1,100 pieces of snow-clearing equipment ready to go.

“We are 100 per cent prepared,” he said early Thursday. “As soon as the snow starts to fall and it starts to stick, the equipment will be out.”

A snow vehicle can be seen driven down a street as wet snow falls.
A snow removal vehicle is seen travelling along Front Street during Wednesday’s wet snowfall. The city says crews will salt all roads once the snow begins to stick to the ground. (Michael Wilson/CBC)

The city said salting was underway on all roadways, with sidewalks, separated bike lanes and multi-use trails being monitored and cleared across the city. Plowing was to start when the snow reached 2.5 centimetres on expressways, five centimetres on major roads, transit routes and streets with hills, and eight centimetres on residential streets.

A map provided by the city shows the real-time locations of snow plows, sidewalk plows and snow trucks. Residents can access it on the City of Toronto website

The weather could prove to be the first major test of the city’s new snow-clearing contracts, which were signed last year. CBC Toronto reported this week that behind the scenes, the effort has been plagued with problems.

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