GTA

Toronto under snowfall, cold warnings with a messy afternoon commute in the forecast

Another significant snowfall is on the way for Toronto and much of the Golden Horseshoe on Wednesday, prompting some school boards in the GTA to cancel bus service.

“Many areas will receive near 15 centimetres of snow by this evening. Locally higher amounts of 20 cm are possible near the west end of Lake Ontario,” says Environment Canada in a snowfall warning issued late Tuesday.

“The heaviest snow is most likely to fall this afternoon, resulting in a significant impact on the commute home late in the day.”

Specifically, snowfall will start “intensifying” in the city in the late morning hours and “only get worse from there,” according to Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist with the national weather service.

The winter storm comes as a low pressure system from the U.S. Midwest makes its way north, bringing with it freezing temperatures. Toronto’s top medical official issued an extreme cold warning early Wednesday, asking residents to be mindful of the risk of frostbite as wind chill values approach –17.

Drivers are similarly being warned to prepare for difficult conditions on roads.

“Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow,” says Environment Canada.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said shortly before the morning rush hour that it is already “very tough to see” any more than about 100 metres on highways throughout the region.

“Highways are covered in snow and there is a lot of traffic out there,” he told CBC Toronto. “Take it easy, make sure you have your full attention on driving, give yourself lots of following distance and slow down.”

If you don’t necessarily have to be out on the roads, “today would be a great day to stay home,” Schmidt added.

As a result of the storm, school bus service on Wednesday has been cancelled by the following GTA boards (though schools remain open):

  • Peel District School Board.
  • Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board.
  • York Region District School Board.
  • York Catholic District School Board.
  • Durham District School Board.
  • Durham Catholic District School Board.

Meanwhile, all bus service is cancelled and schools and facilities are closed for the day in the following boards:

  • Halton District School Board.
  • Halton Catholic District School Board.
  • Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board.

The snowfall is forecast to taper out by about 9 p.m. tonight.

The city is asking people to give snow-clearing equipment time and space. Residents should also wait “several hours” after the snow has stopped falling to contact 311 with snow clearing requests, said spokesperson Eric Holmes.

There’s still money in the $90-million snow-clearing budget to handle the weather, and that snow-clearing contracts are “very flexible this year,” he added.

Some 571 road ploughs and driveway machines will be on hand, as well as 202 salt trucks and 329 of the machines used to clear sidewalks and bus stops. About 1,500 city personnel will be deployed to help deal with the snowfall.

In an email to CBC Toronto, city staff provided an outline of how it will approach today’s winter storm, noting that the plan is subject to change based on conditions:

The remainder of the work week is expected to be chilly but also sunny, with a high of –3 C on Thursday and O C on Friday.

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