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March travel chaos: Was weather to blame?


By Rachel Schoutsen
Presenter, Beat the Traffic
@RachelBTT
Tuesday, April 1, 2014, 10:41 AM

Will March come in like a lion and out like a lamb? It’s a cliché phrase, but we were all thinking it as February rolled into March.

The month started off with bone chilling temperatures, yes the polar vortex. And a huge closure of the Gardiner and lakeshore.


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Drivers were stuck on this route for 2 plus hours as officials cleaned up an enormous truck fire. The problems were not weather related, but nonetheless created massive delays.

Tractor trailer problems were common as we started March.

On the 6th no one was going anywhere fast.

The 401 closed west bound at about 3 am as a truck fire roared in the express lanes around Renforth.

And as if that was not enough for the day, two tractor trailers jack knifed on the same highway with in ten minutes of each other. They were in opposite directions but only one kilometer apart. How ironic?

It was one of the busiest mornings we have had in the BTT studio. And notice in the pictures, clear skies and dry roads. Weather was not the cause of these huge traffic delays.

March sixth was also a notable day for travelers in Alberta. A near 100 vehicle pileup occurred on the QEII north of Calgary. Exactly one week after the 400 in Ontario saw the exact situation. Blowing snow was present at the time of the crash.

The big weather twist was mid-month. This photo explains it all.

The snow that fell on March 12 quickly made everyone forget that spring was just days away. Collisions were called in by the dozens. The 401 shut down in multiple areas, including Brighton, Windsor and Woodstock.

Drivers reported that the 402 in Sarnia was a nightmare to travel on. And Niagara commuters had one of the worst drives, as snow was heavily packed on all routes.

The 400 was also a target for problems during their snowfall.

The real disasters happened the following morning. “A sheet of ice” is how most drivers described the roads after the snow storm. The drive was scary. Trucks could not grip the highways to get up hills, drivers were spinning out by the minute and travel times, well, they were some of the longest we have seen this winter.

Conditions also proved fatal on the roads.

The seasons eventually turned on March 20th as we welcomed in spring. The temps stayed cold and light snow dustings still snarled traffic!

Stateside was no stranger to driving challenges either.

A major wind storm whipped through Southern Idaho cancelling their St.Pats parade and knocking over four tractor trailers on HWY 93 and 50. Visibility was almost down to zero due to the strong winds blowing dust through the southern part of the state.

And also in Minnesota, highway 55 was shut down after a 61 vehicles tangled together in the west bound lanes at the Mendota Bridge. Snow and icy conditions were present at the time of the pileup.

And to end the month, yes March went out like a Lion on the Eastern Seaboard.

The worst of winter happened March 26th in Atlantic Canada as a Nor’easter stormed into the east. Weather Network reporter Nathan Coleman comments, “The storm was fierce. It closed the Confederation Bridge, the Canso Causeway and the Trans Canada between Moncton and Truro."

The Nor’Easter did not only completely hault road traffic but also air traffic. “A plane had to make three attempts before landing (Flight to Halifax from Cuba). After the first failed attempt, the plane flew to Montreal for a layover and then returned for an intense landing. Passengers were really shaken,” says Coleman.

When will the winter driving ever end?

Hopefully in April! Check back next month as we recap our roads in April.

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