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Toronto under snowfall warning, extreme cold weather alert

BT Toronto | posted Wednesday, Feb 5th, 2014

A snowfall warning is in effect for Toronto and the GTA, triggering many delays and cancellations on Wednesday.

Environment Canada issued the warning in the morning for Toronto, Halton Hills, Milton, Mississauga, Brampton, Caledon, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markham, Pickering, Oshawa and southern Durham Region. Total snow amounts of 15 centimetres are likely in those areas.

On Wednesday, the City of Toronto issued an extreme cold weather alert, which will be in effect until further notice.

Such an alert is issued in the morning when Environment Canada predicts extreme weather conditions such as a blizzard, ice storm or a sudden drop in temperature. It also allows the city to open up more shelters for the homeless.

This is the fifth alert the city has issued this winter, officially covering 19 days. In 2008-2009, the season with most extreme cold alerts, the city was under an alert for 27 days.

A snowfall warning was already issued Tuesday for Burlington, Oakville, Niagara and Hamilton, with up to 20 centimetres possible in the Hamilton and Niagara regions.

The TTC said it will be temporarily shutting down the Scarborough RT at 12:30 p.m. to allow its work crews to clear ice and snow from the system. Shuttle buses will be running between Kennedy and McCowan stations. Train service is scheduled to resume at 3 p.m.

Drivers in the GTA encountered a slow and messy morning commute on Wednesday due to the accumulating snowfall.

680News airborne traffic reporter Darryl Dahmer said at one point, there was a 55-kilometre backup on the westbound Highway 401 heading out of Oshawa. Although the backups are not as extensive as that one, they are still problematic.

Environment Canada had warned the heaviest snowfall was expected on Wednesday morning and the city said that would be an issue.

“[The snow] is unfortunately going to cause some problems not only for commuters, but also for ourselves in trying to plow the snow on the main roads,” Peter Noehammer with Toronto Transportation Services said.

Plowing operations are already underway on the city’s expressways. The city has 200 salt trucks, 600 road plows and 300 sidewalk plows in its snow-clearing arsenal.

Beck Taxi said it expects to receive around 2,000 calls an hour for a taxi and that wait times for some areas are up to 70 minutes. Meanwhile, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) has received over 450 calls for service, but warns that callers can expect delays due to the road conditions. The wait for a tow truck in the GTA is over an hour.

Snow continues to fall over the region due to a low pressure system that tracked from the United States. The weather agency said several centimetres of snow fell overnight from Sarnia to the GTA and east to Kingston.

The forecast calls for gusty northeast winds to develop and could lead to blowing snow.

Drivers were advised to allow for extra time due to continuing snowfall and reduced visibility due to blowing snow.

Across the region, the snow is expected to taper off by Wednesday afternoon, according to 680News meteorologist Jill Taylor. She said the winds will gust northeast to 40-60 km/h and a high of -5 C.

School buses have been cancelled in Halton, Peel, York and Dufferin-Peel. Click here to see our full list of school bus cancellations and school closures. The Toronto District School Board said buses are running but delays are possible.

GO Transit warns it expects possible service delays due to overnight snowfall. Click here for service updates.

Air Canada, WestJet and Porter Airlines have all issued travel alerts warning of delays and cancellations, due to the weather in the GTA and also in the U.S. Northeast.

More than 190 flights have been cancelled at Pearson International Airport due to the storm in the U.S., affecting Chicago, New York and Boston. Click here to check your flight status.

There are a handful of cancellations at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport but only affecting Air Canada flights. Click here to check your flight status.

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