Snowfall arrives in Toronto, GTA with up to 25 cm expected by Thursday

Widespread weather alerts blanket Toronto for the biggest snowfall expected so far this season. Michelle Mackey with how the City is tackling the storm, the latest on travel delays and how long this powerful system is expected to last.

By Michael Ranger and Lucas Casaletto

Toronto and the GTA remain under a snowfall warning, with accumulations of 25 cm expected by Thursday morning.

Wednesday’s drive home and Thursday’s morning rush will be the most impacted, with Environment Canada calling for 15 to 25 centimetres of snow that started on Wednesday afternoon and will continue into Thursday morning.

CityNews meteorologist Carl Lam says snow will be heavy through the evening, and snowfall rates may approach 2 to 4 centimetres per hour at times.

“By overnight, the snow will start to lighten up but remain consistent. Snowfall totals will be between 15 to 25 centimetres in many areas like Markham, Bolton, Richmond Hill, Oshawa, and Milton,” Lam said.

Rough timeline for incoming storm:

  • Wednesday 10 a.m. – A quick but brief burst of some heavier snow

  • Wednesday 3 p.m. – Heavier, steadier wet snow and strong winds

  • Wednesday night into Thursday morning – Snow continues overnight and tapers into flurries

“Areas closer to downtown Toronto may pick up 10 to 15 centimetres because of a little rain mixing in and lowering some snow totals. Snow will last into early Thursday morning.”

The previous record for snowfall on Jan. 25 in Toronto was set in 2005 when 7.8 centimetres fell. Some areas could see as much as 25 centimetres of accumulation thanks to strong winds out of the east and some lake effect and lake enhancement snow.

RELATED: School closures and cancellations — Keep up to date during Ontario winter storm

“Lake enhancement generally comes with a front that is already producing precipitation and results in heavier rates of snowfall near the shore,” CityNews meteorologist Jill Taylor says. “The west end of the GTA could see higher amounts of snow with the combination of system snow and some lake enhancement.”


CityNews weather graphic. Wednesday, Jan. 25, 2023.

Environment Canada notes that motorists must prepare for rapidly changing driving conditions.

“Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow,” Canada’s weather agency said.

Halton-Peel will see similar snow accumulation outside of the city, with Mississauga, Brampton, Oakville and Burlington under a snowfall warning. Barrie and cottage country, including Parry Sound, is expected to see only 5 to 10 centimetres.

City officials advise people to stay home if possible

Toronto officials are asking residents to stay home on Wednesday or Thursday unless it is absolutely necessary to leave the house.

“Stay home, work from home, be safe,” says Vincent Sferrazza, the city’s director of transportation and maintenance.

Salt trucks and plows will be out during the afternoon rush due to the timing of the incoming storm. Drivers are being reminded to give crews plenty of room and avoid parking on arterial roads.

The city is also asking residents to wait 16 hours after the snowfall stops before calling and complaining about an unplowed street.

“Our local residential roads will require at least two to three rounds of plowing,” says Sferrazza. “Please be patient.”

Residents can use the PlowTO map on the city’s website to track crews and see which roads and sidewalks have been cleared.

Toronto is opening its three warming centres at 7 p.m. on Wednesday. Spaces will be available by walk-in at each location.

  • Scarborough Civic Centre, 150 Borough Dr
  • Metro Hall, 55 John St
  • Mitchell Field Community Centre, 89 Church Ave

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