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2 die in crash as snow blankets southern Ontario

Two people died on Ontario highways Thursday, as Environment Canada warned of snow squalls and poor driving conditions.

Shortly after 10 a.m. the OPP reported a series of crashes on Highway 402 near Sarnia, one involving a cruiser on its way to another collision.

Two people from separate cars died as a result. Neither was an OPP officer.

Eastbound lanes remained closed as of midnight. Westbound lanes were reopened.

The province’s Special Investigations Unit is probing the case, as it does with all incidents involving police when someone dies or is seriously hurt.

“Blowing snow makes visibility a factor,” said OPP Sgt. Dave Woodford.

Highway 401 in the Woodstock area was also shut down for several hours Thursday after numerous collisions.

A tractor-trailer jackknifed in the eastbound lanes of Highway 401 near Lakeridge Road due to icy roads, and in Hamilton, the Lincoln Alexander Parkway was closed at Upper Gage after a number of crashes.

Environment Canada issued snow squall warnings and a special weather statement for much of southern Ontario on Thursday, including the GTA. But the weather agency lifted the snow squall warnings in the afternoon for Hamilton and Toronto.

The special weather statement said as a band of snow passes through the area, visibility could be less than one kilometre and wind gusts could near 60 km/h.

“Motorists are advised to use caution in the poor driving conditions,” the statement said.

“Conditions are expected to improve rapidly after the snow band passing.”

The warning includes the GTA, Hamilton, Barrie and surrounding areas.

“What we’ll start to see is about two centimetres — not a whole lot,” said CityNews weather specialist Frank Ferragine. “In behind it, the winds will continue. So blowing snow is a risk, some drifting snow on some of the highways, especially the 400 and 404.”

The band will continue east through Trenton and reach Ottawa by early Thursday evening.

As much as five centimetres of snow is expected Saturday.

Click here for the seven-day forecast.