The GTA weathered a heavy storm Monday, enduring more than 20 cm of snow with strong winds and hazardous travel conditions that are expected to continue into Tuesday morning.
Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for the City of Toronto around 5:30 p.m., replacing the snowfall warning from earlier in the day.
Inclement weather had a significant impact on road conditions throughout the day Monday and through the evening commute, with visibility reduced almost to zero at times. The weather forecaster has said blowing should slowly taper off overnight but road conditions are expected to be treacherous.
Shortly after 11 p.m. the weather agency issued an update advising people to “avoid travel tonight and Tuesday morning if possible.”
Air travel was heavily affected throughout the day on Monday. Hundreds of flights — over 30 per cent of all arrivals and departures — were cancelled at Pearson Airport throughout the day. According to GTAA spokesperson Robin Smith, the airport and various airlines “agreed on a reduced rate of departure,” meaning flights were staggered for “safety’s sake.”
Dozens of flights at Billy Bishop Airport were delayed or cancelled throughout the day as well.
Police reported trouble with stuck cars on the Don Valley Parkway northbound near the Don Mills exit around 9:30 p.m. Toronto police Const. David Hopkinson tweeted that there were “many cars” stalled or unable to manage in the snow. Officers requested the assistance of any available tow trucks to help free the cars.
According to Metrolinx, buses experienced up to 30-minute delays in the afternoon, increasing to delays of up to 80 minutes through the evening. As of around 8 p.m. Monday evening, all train lines were operating with 10- to 15-minute delays.
Metrolinx media relations spokesperson Fannie Sunshine said Metrolinx’s TTC GO protocol was in effect through Monday evening and night to alleviate some of the snow-induced chaos. The protocol allows commuters to use GO transit within the City of Toronto on a TTC fare, and vice versa.
The TTC shut down Line 3 around 4 p.m., replacing service with 17 shuttle buses between Kennedy and Scarborough Town Centre stations. TTC media relations spokesperson Stuart Green cited operator visibility challenges and significant snow buildup as the reasons for the closure.
“Better safe than sorry,” he tweeted.
The TTC also experienced a closure unrelated to the weather around 8 p.m. when police received reports of a man with a gun approaching people at Dundas station. Line 1 was closed between Bloor and Union stations for several minutes while police investigated.
The man was eventually arrested.
Toronto Transportation Services began salting main roads around noon and continued through the evening rush hour.
Plowing operations for the Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner Expressway began around 5 p.m., with plowing for main roads beginning at 6 p.m. and continuing through the evening.
Sidewalk plowing on high-volume routes took place from 6 p.m. to around 2 a.m., and then resumed around 8 a.m. Tuesday morning.
Schools across the GTA remained open Monday despite the weather.
Toronto District School Board spokesperson Ryan Bird said no classes were cancelled, but warned parents to expect afternoon school bus delays.
Both the Peel District School Board and Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board cancelled all buses to schools in Mississauga and Brampton, though schools remained open. The latter board also shuffled high school exam schedules as a result of the storm.
The Halton District School Board cancelled all after-school activities, and the Peel District School Board cancelled continuing education courses, night school, adult ESL programs and adult credit classes for the day.
Post-secondary institutions across the city closed their doors as well. George Brown College closed at 3 p.m., the University of Toronto Mississauga and Sheridan College UTM campuses at 4 p.m., and U of T’s Scarborough campus at 5 p.m.
Ryerson and OCAD Universities cancelled all classes after 6 p.m. Ryerson campus remained open, while OCAD closed all school buildings. All Humber College campuses and the University of Guelph-Humber also closed at 6 p.m..
U of T’s downtown campus cancelled classes and course-related activities at 6 p.m., although campus remained open.
Environment Canada predict snowfall accumulations of up to 25 cm by Tuesday morning. The highest amounts were predicted closer to Lake Ontario due to extra moisture from the lake. The snowfall was the result of an Alberta Clipper that crossed the region.
Winter storm warnings are issued when multiple types of severe weather are expected to occur together.
With files from Mississauga News.
Ilya Bañares is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @ilyaoverseasRhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK