Toronto in major snowstorm conditions; Environment Canada ends winter storm warning

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Snowfall further postponed the return to in-person learning on Tuesday morning.

Environment Canada ended the winter storm warning Monday night for Toronto.

As a result, Mayor John Tory declared a major snowstorm condition to help the city clear the roads. The condition is set for 72 hours but it can be shortened or extended if necessary, but the city expects it to be extended. People are encouraged to stay home during and after the snowfall. Those who must drive are warned to expect delays, slippery conditions and poor visibility. Drivers are also urged to keep a safe distance from snow removal vehicles and other road users and drive slowly while using gentle braking, steering and acceleration. The condition means that drivers can no longer park on snow-covered roads during this time and that snowplows will remove snow in designated snow storage sites. Snow removal will begin once scheduled snow removal operations are complete later this week.

In one live video posted to Twitter just after 2 p.m. Monday, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt says the eastbound 401 to the northbound 400 freeway is inaccessible due to transport trucks blocking the lanes and stuck in snow. As they wait for heavy tows, traffic behind the trucks comes to a standstill. Schmidt says many drivers stuck in queues have been on the freeway since before 7 a.m. Monday. Some vehicles were able to maneuver around the transport trucks, but most are stuck in line. Schmidt says it’s unclear how long the freeway will be blocked. He said he was deeply concerned about what this means for emergency vehicles trying to access the stretch of freeway.

The eastbound 401 in Weston has a slow-moving lane Monday night due to multiple transport trucks stuck and blocking the majority of the lanes. The 401 westbound to Islington express is currently at a standstill.

DVP AND GARDINER NOW OPEN

Most school boards in the Greater Toronto Area have closed schools and canceled school buses as the regions face inclement weather.

The Don Valley Parkway and Gardiner freeways were temporarily closed Monday to assist in the removal of existing vehicles that have become stuck on snow-covered roads. Both highways are now open, according to Toronto police in an updated tweet Monday afternoon.

NO POSTAL SERVICE FOR PARTS OF ONTARIO

Canada Post is suspending mail delivery for the day due to weather conditions. This will affect service for Eastern and Southern Ontario and the Greater Toronto Area. “The safety of our employees is our number one priority,” read the Postal Service alert. Delivery will resume once it is safe to do so and weather conditions improve. Spokesperson Paul Legault has no further information on when postal service will resume saying, “We will be assessing the situation continuously overnight and tomorrow until it is safe for us to send our delivery agents. We will update our delivery service alerts as soon as there is a change.

SCHOOL CLOSURES

Most school boards in the Greater Toronto Area have closed schools and canceled school buses as the regions face inclement weather.

Public and Catholic school boards in Toronto will continue to use from a distance learn on Monday. Both will cancel buses, in-person classes and virtual learning on Tuesday.

York and Catholic councils also have announcement bus cancellations and that schools will remain closed. Students can participate in asynchronous online learning. The two councils will also cancel in-person classes and be replaced by online learning on Tuesday.

Peel and Catholic Commissions firm all schools, including in-person and online classes. Peel announced classes will move online and buses will be canceled on Tuesday.

The city of Toronto is now under a blizzard warning, according to the latest update from Environment Canada.  Abundant snow, almost zero visibility and up to 50 cm.  snow is expected to fall across the city on Monday.

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District Council noted all schools and facilities are closed and students will move to remote learning on Monday. They are also canceling in-person learning and buses on Tuesday.

Durham District School Board announcement all of its elementary schools remain closed and that high school students will log on for virtual learning. The Durham Catholic District School Board has taken a similar step announcement A little after. The Durham School Board made no announcement about Tuesday.

Halton Public and Catholic and Hamilton Wentworth District and Catholic, niagara public and catholic school the councils also announced the school closures and that in-person and virtual classes are cancelled.

WHAT IS CLOSED IN TORONTO

Branches of Toronto public libraries are also closed on Mondays because of the weather.

The TTC is warning commuters of major delays and line closures due to snow on January 17, 2022.

The city’s outdoor rinks are firm and will not be supervised or maintained. Community centers that were open for access to washrooms and showers are closed due to the storm.

A number of vaccination clinics in southern Ontario are closed due to weather conditions. people are encouraged to reschedule their appointments for a later date.

Toronto Public Health has canceled all vaccination clinics scheduled for Monday.

IMPACT ON TRANSIT AND ROAD CONDITIONS

Environment Canada says people should expect blizzard conditions and heavy snowfall throughout the day into the evening, with the worst conditions expected by 11 a.m. Peak snowfall rates of 6-10cm. per hour.

Travel should be extremely dangerous with almost zero visibility. Commuters who cannot avoid being on the roads should expect significant delays during peak hours.

Local and provincial police departments have reminded motorists to exercise caution as driving conditions remain slippery with snow on major roads and highways in the Greater Toronto Area.

Toronto Winter Operations tweeted Monday morning that all the roads were plowed.

Service including VAT noted all bus and tram routes are covered in snow and customers will experience journey delays. The transit service updated commuters with the latest information on Twitter. There are a large number of route delays and cancellations. TTC said service on Line 1 Yonge-University has no service between Yonge/Bloor and Lawrence stations and between West St. Clair and West Sheppard stations with shuttles taking over. They also announced the Scarborough RT is suspended with shuttles serving the area. Line 2 Bloor-Danforth between Kennedy and McCowan will also be replaced by shuttles and between Kipling and Jane was also experiencing weather delays, but that is now clear.

Metrolinx advises customers on its network to check in advance if there are any significant delays or cancellations on their route.

A Metrolinx spokesperson told the Star that ridership is down dramatically on GO transit, making it easier to reroute and cancel.

Some of the canceled GO Bus routes include: 16 Hamilton to Toronto and 12 Niagara to Burlington.

Toronto Police to say Eastbound Sheppard Ave W at Keele St. is blocked by cars and buses stuck in snow. Officers are on site advising people to find alternative routes.

CANCELED AND DELAYED FLIGHTS

If you were planning on getting on a plane today or were planning to pick someone up from the airport, you’re probably going to be grounded today.

Nearly 30% of the 331 scheduled departures from Toronto Pearson International Airport today have been cancelled. Just over 32% of the total 345 arrivals were cancelled.

“Our crews continue to work through the evening clearing snow to ensure the continued safe operation of Toronto Pearson and an efficient start to Tuesday morning operations…we ask those who are due to travel tomorrow to check their flight status with from their airline or torontopearson.com and allow extra time when heading to the airport,” said Rachel Bertone, spokesperson for Pearson.

The federal government continues to encourage Canadians to avoid non-essential travel outside the country due to the risk of the Omicron variant which causes COVID-19.

Correction — January 18, 2022: This file has been updated to correct that Kerry Schmidt is an OPP Sergeant and not a Constable.

Lloyd Quansah is a reporter for the Star’s Toronto-based radio room. Contact Lloyd by email: [email protected]

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