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Toronto hammered by cold spell; air travel & roads affected

A car is shown coated in ice after a freezing rainstorm in Brampton CITYNEWS/Tony Fera

Toronto is being hammered by a spell of cold weather that is affecting air travel and roads – and it’s going to get colder and snowier on Monday night.

With the wind, it will feel like -30 C to -40 C on Monday night and into Tuesday morning all across the GTA, bringing the city close to the record low windchill temp of -44.7 C which was reached on Jan. 4, 1981, CityNews meteorologist Adam Stiles said.

“Tonight it’s all about the cold air,” he explained. “The snow squalls are playing a minor role but those are going to start to meander. Wind chill, strong winds and the cold air – those are really the story.”

Those working outdoors should take extreme caution, as exposed skin may freeze in 10-30 minutes.

Snow squall watches are in effect for the northern parts of the GTA including northern York and Durham regions where 15-30 cm may accumulate by Tuesday morning with near whiteout conditions.

If the roads haven’t been cleared overnight Stiles says drivers may once again have to deal with slippery conditions in the morning caused by compact snow and ice. Those driving north of the city along Highway 400 will have to deal with visibility issues with lake effect, as well as those travelling down toward the Buffalo area.

For motorists that find themselves stuck on a snow-blocked highway or in an accident, they could potentially face dangerous wind chills if they have to leave their vehicle.

Travellers are advised to make sure they have an emergency kit in their cars, and enough fuel for their journey.

The TCDSB is advising parents and students that bus delays are expected on Tuesday as a result of these extreme cold temperatures.

Weather alerts and warnings

The city is also under an extreme cold weather alert and a wind chill warning.

An extreme cold weather alert is triggered when temperatures are expected to fall below – 15 C. The city makes extra shelter spaces available and overnight street outreach is increased in the downtown core to get the homeless in from the cold.

TTC tokens are also offered so that people can use public transit to get to shelters.

Click here for the full forecast.

A flash freeze warning that was issued earlier Monday, warning of a messy morning commute, has since ended.

Travel advisories

Due to weather conditions dozens of flights continue to be delayed and cancelled at Pearson airport, stranding thousands heading in and out of the city.

Click here to see if yours was affected.

One passenger, Chris Cocca, told CityNews his flight home from Fort Lauderdale, which should have only taken three hours, ended up being a 10 hour ordeal which included sitting on the tarmac at Pearson for three hours.

His flight was originally scheduled to take off at 10 p.m. but was delayed almost five hours.

Cocca said once the plane landed the pilot informed them that other planes had been sitting on the tarmac for three to four hours which he said caused a “collective groan” from passengers.

“Being that close to the airport and being able to sit there and see it, after such a long night. It was just pain,” said Cocca. “Obviously weather is weather but it could have been handled probably a lot better. I wouldn’t wish it on anybody. It was brutal.”

A Greater Toronto Airport Authority (GTAA) spokeswoman said nine flights were diverted from Montreal and Ottawa to Toronto Monday morning, which affected deplaning, but most of the cancellations were weather related.

Of the 1,600 scheduled flights Monday 17 per cent of departures and 22 per cent of arrivals were cancelled.

“It has been a busy day,” Silvana Aceto of the southern Ontario CAA told CityNews.

“As of 10 a.m. we had over 2,000 calls for service [and] we expect volumes to continue to rise as the temperature drops.”

Aceto noted that on an average winter day, the CAA deals with approximately 3,000 calls. That number can double during severe weather.

OPP Sgt. Dave Woodford said that since midnight, the OPP has received 960 calls for service.

Visit our Storm Centre for live updates on closures and cancellations.

Outside Toronto

Meanwhile, a blizzard warning has been issued for the following places in southern Ontario:

  • Caledon
  • Huron-Perth
  • Waterloo-Wellington
  • Dufferin-Innisfil
  • Grey-Bruce
  • Barrie-Orillia-Midland
  • Port Carling-Port Severn
  • Bracebridge-Gravenhurst

Blizzard-like conditions including near zero visibility and gusty winds over 40 km/h are expected to last for many hours on Monday night.

Snow squall warnings are in place for the Niagara Region and there are blowing snow warning for parts of southern Ontario stretching from Brantford down into Windsor.