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Major highway closure begins icy day in the GTA, recap

Digital writers

Friday, January 12, 2018, 11:23 AM - Commuters beware. Expect numerous travel delays across southern Ontario on Friday as a major system bringing freezing rain, snow and the risk for a flash freeze could threaten travel plans.

Flash freeze looming, schools cancel buses to prepare

A special weather statement spans the region with the potential for icy conditions through the day. Rainfall is forecast to change to snow by midday Friday as temperatures take a steep and rapid plunge with the passage of the cold front. There’s also the threat of a brief period of freezing rain during the transition from rain to snow. 

Snowfall totals are expected to be limited to just a few centimetres across southern Ontario, but the risk for a flash freeze with the quickly falling temperatures could make a mess of highways, roads and walkways. That prompted warnings across Huron-Perth, Grey-Bruce and into the Barrie and Muskoka regions.

"Flash freeze warnings are issued when a rapid drop in temperature is expected, that can cause water from rain or melted snow on streets and sidewalks to quickly freeze," Environment Canada says.

The frigid air will remain in place for the weekend with a north wind gusting to 60 km/h, which could produce dangerous wind chills and cause extensive blowing and drifting snow in areas where fresh snow has fallen. 

"As schools prepare for these icy conditions, some have decided to cancel buses," says The Weather Network's Rachel Schoutsen. "Durham, Coburg, Peterborough and York (Catholic) have already done so. Check in with your school through the day."

WATCH BELOW: On-the-ground coverage of the ongoing flash freeze

Toronto's medical officer of health issued an extreme cold weather alert Friday morning ahead of the falling and frigid temperatures coming. This alert will trigger additional services for the homeless.

Those with air travel plans are also urged to keep up-to-date on the status of flights as the winter weather may impact airport schedules. About 200 flights had already been cancelled at Toronto's Pearson airport before 6 a.m. on Friday.

DVP flooding

As temperatures skyrocketed into double digit highs on Thursday, the combination of heavy rain and rapid snowmelt closed the Don Valley Parkway in both directions due to flooding late Thursday night. Water levels in the Don River rose suddenly and the flooding began around midnight.

Keep on top of active weather by visiting the ALERTS page.

The northbound DVP re-opened around 5:30 a.m. on Friday, and by 6 a.m., southbound lanes re-opened as well.

The lower portion of the Bayview Extension also experienced flooding and Toronto Police urged drivers to avoid the area. Toronto Fire responded to stranded motorists that were caught in deep pools of water through the overnight hours.

Toronto and Region Conservation is warning of increased water levels and hazardous conditions in the TRCA's jurisdiction due to the mild temperatures and snowmelt. 

"Although the water levels within TRCA’s rivers and streams are receding, the water levels are still higher than usual and river and stream banks remain slippery maintaining dangerous conditions," said the TRCA in a flood outlook issued Friday morning. "Ponding may still occur in low-lying areas. The combination of slippery and unstable banks, cold water temperature, and the potential for ice jamming could create hazardous conditions close to any river, stream or other water bodies."

Get an in-depth meteorological analysis on what this storm could bring to you, right here

WATCH: From the Forecast Centre, flash freeze threat

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