Icy conditions helped mark the first day of winter as freezing rain hit the GTA on Saturday.
Rain fell throughout the area for most of the day before changing over to freezing rain around the dinner hour.
CityNews meterologist Natasha Ramsahai said a freezing rain warning is in place for all of southern Ontario, including the Niagara peninsula.
“The freezing rain will be ongoing right through the night,” she explained. “The heaviest is expected to be through the overnight period.”
Ramsahai says 10-20 millimetres of freezing rain could fall locally overnight with higher amounts over higher elevations, causing slippery conditions on the roads and damaging power lines.
“Even one millimetre is enough to get things sliding,” she said. “Half an inch of ice on power lines is enough to add an additional 500 pounds of weight. We’re already seeing a number of (power outages) across the city.”
Toronto Hydro says approximately 8,500 customers are without power with the hardest hit area located between York Mills to Lawrence, Victoria Park to Don Mills.
Hydro One says over 28,000 customers are without power across the province with the biggest concentrations in the Kingston-area and the GTA.
There are approx. 8,500 customers without power in areas across the city. Crews are working to restore power as quickly as possible. #darkTO
— Toronto Hydro (@TorontoHydro) December 22, 2013
Currently 28,700 Hydro One customers in the province with no power. Check our mobile app for updates on restoration times — Hydro One (@HydroOne) December 22, 2013
Toronto Hydro says those wishing to report outages can do so by calling 416-542-8000.
The weather has caused dozens of flights to be cancelled or delayed at Pearson airport on one of the busiest weekends of the year for travel.
Air Canada spokesman Peter Fitzpatrick said the carrier is doing what it can to minimize any disruptions.
“Our aim is to carry as many customers as we can and operate as many flights as conditions permit, and for those whose flights are cancelled we are looking for capacity, including by adding flights when possible,” he said in an email. The airline is advising passengers check their flight status before heading to the airport, and check in online to speed things up.
Peel police Const. Lilly Fitzpatrick says both drivers and pedestrians need to be on alert.
“We are advising motorists to slow down, reduce their speed and increase their following distance,” she said. “Sidewalks can be treacherous. When people are going out, allow themselves from extra time and be extra vigilant in terms of crossing intersections because it’s going to be difficult for vehicles to stop.”
The City of Toronto said its de-icing crews are ready for whatever comes, but also urged people to be cautious on the roads and sidewalks.
“Provide yourself extra time to get where you need to go,” Mayor Rob Ford said in a statement. “Avoid parking on streets where possible, so snow plows can get through.”
In advance of the storm both the Peel District School Board and the York Regional School Board cancelled permits at all schools and sites for Sunday due to weather conditions.
The freezing rain will continue into Sunday morning and then switch over to freezing drizzle before it ends in the afternoon.
Winter arrived at 12:11 p.m. Saturday.
With files from The Canadian Press