Bitterly cold temperatures and snow squalls create travel chaos across parts of Ontario
Tuesday, January 7, 2014, 10:44 -
With the deep freeze and snow squalls in full force across much of southern Ontario, it is now the roads, highways and drivers that are feeling the effects of winter's blast in the form of multiple closures and slippery conditions.
DEEP FREEZE CONTINUES: Tune into The Weather Network on TV for continued coverage on this system.
Ontarians woke up to frigid conditions Tuesday with bitter wind chills ranging from -30 to -45 -- and while the coldest air is now out of the way, it will remain chilly for a little while longer.
"On Tuesday morning, southern Ontario experienced some of the coldest temperatures in decades, and in some instances, new wind chill records were set," says Weather Network meteorologist Monica Vaswani.
"Wind chills will remain in the -30 to -35 range until Wednesday morning."
Both Kitchener and London set an all-time record for the dangerous cold and while Windsor came close to breaking its record of -42, it only felt like -39 in the city Tuesday morning.
UPDATED ROAD CLOSURES
Unscheduled road closures and events for provincial highways:
Information updated as of 10:07 p.m. ET
400 Northbound [ HWY 12 N JCT - ] - Road Conditions
400 Northbound [ VASEY ROAD/SIMCOE ROAD 23/HWY 12 S JCT - ] - Road Conditions
400 Southbound [ SEVERN RIVER BRIDGE - HWY 12 N JCT ] - Road Conditions
401 Eastbound COLLECTOR Off-ramp [ - YONGE ST ] - Disable Vehicle
HWY 10 Both Directions [ County Road 9 / Main Street - Lundolder Drive ] - Weather
HWY 101 Eastbound [ YOUNG ST(7072)(S)FOLYET TWP - ] - Other
HWY 12 Northbound [ THORAH 8TH LINE/MARA ROAD 23 - HWY. 48 NORTH JCT ] - Road Conditions
HWY 12 Northbound [ WARMINSTER ROAD - LOWER BIG CHUTE ROAD ] - Road Conditions
HWY 12 Southbound [ HWY. 48 NORTH JCT - THORAH 8TH LINE/MARA ROAD 23 ] - Road Conditions
HWY 17 Both Directions [ SEC HWY 556-HEYDEN (E) - HWY 101(E) - WAWA ] - Weather
HWY 21 Both Directions [ Dashwood Road / County Road 83 - County Road 3 / Jackson Road ] - Weather
HWY 23 Both Directions [ Highway 7 / Elginfield Road - Line 32 ] - Road Conditions
HWY 26 Both Directions [ Mcauley Street - 11th Line ] - Weather
HWY 4 Both Directions [ Dinsley Terrace - Huron Street ] - Weather
HWY 6 Both Directions [ Port Ryerse Road - Big Tub Road / Front Street ] - Weather
HWY 6 Both Directions [ South Water Street / Murphy Street - Wellington Sideroad 18 ] - Weather
HWY 8 Both Directions [ Orchard Line - Napier Street ] - Weather
HWY 9 Both Directions [ Sideroad 10 - William Street ] - Weather
HWY 93 Northbound [ SIMCOE ROAD 27/SIMCOE ROAD 23/VASEY ROAD - ] - Road Conditions
HWY 93 Southbound [ HWY 12/ANGELA SCHMIDT FOSTER ROAD - ] - Road Conditions
QEW Fort Erie Bound [ GARDEN CITY SKYWAY - ] - Disable Vehicle
Wind chill warnings remain in place from Windsor to Ottawa, across northern Ontario and into Manitoba.
At these extreme temperatures, exposed skin may freeze in less than five minutes, officials warn.
"Moreover, it is also suggested to help prevent freezing of pipes in buildings, one could turn on the lowest tap in the house and let it run as a pencil-thin stream or fast drip while keeping indoor temperatures a little warmer at night," EC says.
Brad Ross, head of communications at the TTC, tweeted that the transit service would be short 35 cars for the Tuesday evening commute due to the weather.
"Ten buses will help with service on 504 King," he says.
No planes were allowed to land at Toronto's Pearson International Airport until about 11 a.m. on Tuesday because of the bitter cold air. Airlines are urging passengers to check their flight status ahead of time because of the backlog the ground stop has created as well as possible delays or cancellations.
Several school boards across the region also cancelled buses early Tuesday due to extreme cold temperatures and the safety of the students.
The OPP tweeted about numerous multi-vehicle collisions and blocked lanes across southern Ontario throughout the day.
"Highway 7 is closed, can't get to Stratford, tractor trailers all lined up and stuck," said camera operator Mark Rozitis Tuesday morning. "Wind picking up, sun is out and making top layer of snow extremely icy. Blowing snow is also picking up."
SNOW SQUALL AND BLIZZARD WARNINGS
Frequent intense snow squalls off of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay are expected to continue through Tuesday.
"Many of the snow squalls continues to extend quite far inland thanks to the very strong winds," says EC. "Local snowfall amounts of 15 to 20 cm are quite likely in some of the snow squalls by tonight."
Very low to zero visibilities with whiteout conditions are expected especially over exposed areas.
Frequent squalls were reported in southern Ontario Monday night, creating traffic snarls.
EC warns that the combination of a fresh heavy snowfall from the recent snowstorm with intense snow squalls and bitter wind chills pose a "life-threatening" risk for anyone outside for any duration, or stranded in vehicles if roads become snow-blocked.
Motorists are being urged to adjust their travel plans accordingly and to ensure they have a car emergency kit and ample fuel if travelling a far distance.
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Rain, freezing rain and heavy snow started to pick up across southern Ontario on Sunday.
About 15 cm of snow was recorded in places like Windsor and Toronto through Monday, while Barrie and Orillia picked up between 30-40 cm.
The messy mix, slick roads and reduced visibilities resulted in numerous collisions on the roads Monday.
At one point, police say they responded to one call every two minutes, while CAA South Central Ontario said thousands of calls came in from stranded motorists.
RELIEF ON THE WAY
The blizzard conditions are expected to gradually ease, although snow squalls and blowing snow are likely to continue through Tuesday night in many areas.
Wind chills are also expected to improve by Wednesday as temperatures begin to rise and winds finally ease.
By the weekend, some places will even see temperatures rise above the freezing mark.
"A light at the end of the tunnel," says Weather Network meteorologist Doug Gillham. "We'll see an intermission to this winter weather pattern we've been experiencing. Not necessarily a full thaw ... but temperatures close to freezing will feel great."
Here's Mike Arsenault, demonstrating how cold the conditions got in Windsor, Ontario Tuesday afternoon: