Toronto Hydro says approximately 10,800 of its customers are now without power as the city reels from an ice storm.
Outside of the city, Hydro One says more than 37,000 customers are without power as freezing rain, high winds and ice pellets battered southern Ontario.
The utility company says that since the start of the storm it has restored power to more than 73,000 customers, but warns some in southwestern Ontario may be without power tonight.
Environment Canada warned earlier that an ice storm was “likely” on Sunday and outages were possible because trees and branches, laden with ice from the storm, could fall on power lines.
Hundreds of crashes on roads
Earlier on Sunday, Ontario Provincial Police said there have been nearly 1,200 automobile crashes in the Toronto area since the storm first hit on Saturday.
“This is significant and a lot for a weekend. The weather continues to blow the snow and ice,” Sgt. Kerry Schmidt, spokesperson for the OPP’s Highway Safety Division, told CBC Toronto.
Cars drive along Toronto’s Lakeshore Drive as visibility diminishes through falling hail, snow, and rain.(Cole Burston/Canadian Press)
Environment Canada issued freezing rain warnings across southern Ontario and parts of southern Quebec early Sunday because of a spring storm that could make driving a lot more difficult for the rest of the weekend.
The OPP has recommended that drivers cancel non-essential travel on the roads.
“It’s not worth it,” Schmidt said. “The conditions are going to deteriorate throughout the day.”
Those taking the TTC may also face delays as the transit authority says service on Line 3 has been suspended because of ice on the rails. Shuttle buses are operating from Kennedy to McCowan stations.
<a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/OPP?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#OPP</a> have been called to approximately 1200 collisions during the <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/OnStorm?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#OnStorm</a> <br>Roads are still wet and slushy<br>Avoid unnecessary travel <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/BeSafe?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#BeSafe</a> <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/OPPTips?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#OPPTips</a> <a href=”https://t.co/Z0eTKunoBt”>pic.twitter.com/Z0eTKunoBt</a>
Several warnings in effect for Toronto
Toronto remains under both freezing rain and rainfall warnings. The city endured freezing rain and ice pellets late Saturday and into Sunday morning, with snow falling in some areas.
Environment Canada issued the rainfall warning for the city and surrounding area, saying freezing rain will turn into heavy rainfall likely Sunday evening. Rainfall amounts could be in the range of 20 to 25 millimetres.
Ice appears to drip from a spruce tree in Scarborough. Toronto is under rainfall and freezing rain warnings after the city endured a wintry mix of weather on Saturday that included snow and ice pellets.(Muriel Draaisma/CBC)
“The intense low pressure system which has been affecting southern Ontario is also expected to produce wind gusts up to 100 km/h along the Lakeshore of Toronto,” the statement said.
“Billy Bishop airport has reported easterly wind gusts up to 95 km/h and winds of this magnitude are expected to persist periodically through the evening hours.”
Stay off roads if you can
Toronto police are calling for cyclists and pedestrians to stay clear of the roads if possible, until the storm passes.
Const. Allyson Douglas-Cook, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service, said vehicles have been spinning out, hitting other vehicles, crashing into poles and guard rails as drivers have lost control.
Officers were very busy on Saturday night after a string of collisions.
The icy weather has made it particularly difficult for some vehicles on the road. (Muriel Draaisma/CBC)
“We’re stressing the importance of not leaving home unless you absolutely have to and try to stay off the roadways.”
Douglas-Cook urged drivers to slow down, allow extra time to reach destinations and ensure following distances are more than adequate.
City ‘comfortable’ with level of plowing
Barbara Gray, general manager of Toronto’s transportation services division, says there are 80 salt trucks operating in the city. Thirty of those vehicles have plows, she added. During peak winter weeks, the city usually has access to some 200 salt trucks.
“We are comfortable with the level of equipment we have on the roads,” Gray told reporters.
Gray says plows are focusing on main roads, such as “high priority” arterial routes, ramps, hills and bridges, but some roads won’t be plowed because they include catch basins.
A snow plow clears a sidewalk in Kitchener, Ont., on Sunday.(Gary Graves/CBC)
Mayor John Tory sought to reassure Toronto residents that plowing that needs to be done is being completed in Toronto.
“A lot of people have raised questions about the plowing. The plowing has been done on the expressways in accordance with the city’s standards regarding weather events,” Tory said.
The mayor’s event to celebrate the Toronto Maple Leafs and Toronto Raptors at City Hall Monday morning was cancelled Sunday evening because of the ongoing storm.
Flights cancelled at Pearson, Billy Bishop
These are the conditions for staff working outside today. Icy conditions combined with the presence of multiple vehicles and large aircraft in motion mean that safety is always our top priority. Thank you to all our airport workers keeping passengers safe. <a href=”https://t.co/sdWDlF6oZk”>pic.twitter.com/sdWDlF6oZk</a>
“We’re working closely with our airline partners to keep traffic moving and to make sure that workers outside are kept safe in these weather conditions,” Robin Smith, spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority, told CBC Toronto Sunday. Our central de-icing facility is still fully staffed and there are additional staff in the terminals to help keep passengers informed throughout the day.”
At Billy Bishop Airport, all flights and ferry service to the airport have been cancelled. The airport only received one flight on Sunday, but it remains open for those who need to rebook flights.
April 15: Due to weather conditions all remaining flights from <a href=”https://twitter.com/hashtag/YTZ?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw”>#YTZ</a> have been cancelled for today and ferry operations have ceased. The airport remains open for those who need to rebook flights.
Hours of freezing rain
Geoff Coulson, a weather preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada based in Toronto, said the Greater Toronto Area is grappling with a second wet and wintry day.
Coulson described the spring storm as not typical for this time of year.
“This is very unusual. To get this much freezing rain, this late into the spring, is not something I can recall happening over the last number of decades here in the Greater Toronto Area.”
Flooding possible in some areas
Flooding in low-lying areas is possible on Sunday, Environment Canada said in its rainfall warning. It urged people to keep children and pets away from creeks and river banks.
According to the forecast, rain is expected to continue into Monday but it is likely to be lighter.
Coulson said the temperature is expected to be about 4 C by Monday morning, then reach a daytime high of 9 C.
Ice pellets gather on a car hood.(Kate Bueckert/CBC)