Messy system creates travel delays, power outages in southern Ontario
Wednesday, March 4, 2015, 6:15 AM -
A messy system entered Ontario Tuesday, creating travel delays and slippery roadways. Numerous power outages were reported across the region.
"The causes for the power outages tonight are a result of Hydro One transmission issues, pole fires and system issues due to weather," Toronto Hydro tweeted Tuesday evening.
"As a result of the numerous outages throughout the city, the power outage map may not be accurate."
More than 20,000 customers were said to be without power across southern Ontario. More than 85,000 were left in the dark at the height of the storm. Firefighters scrambled to battle dozens of fire pole and transformer fires across southern Ontario due to the storm.
Many schools in Toronto were affected by the power outages, cancelling classes to make sure students could stay warm. Some like Karen Kain School of the Arts had students relocating to the Etobicoke School of the Arts.
A combination of drizzle in the atmosphere and salt spray left over from previous snowstorms coating some transformers is a likely cause behind some of the electrical fires.
Toronto's Yorkdale Shopping Centre was forced to close early Tuesday due the widespread blackouts.
Outages were reported across Ontario, from Chatham-Kent, straight through the GTA into Georgetown.
TUNE IN: Tune in to The Weather Network on TV for continued coverage on this system.
Traffic lights were down in several cities as well. Cars slowed to a crawl on major highways across the GTA during the afternoon as drivers battled a thick layer of snow and slush.
Around the evening commute some communities saw a transition into ice pellets and freezing rain, resulting in travel chaos.
Environment Canada issued freezing rain warnings in the southwest from Windsor to the western GTA earlier in the day.
The system will then roll through eastern Ontario and into Quebec, arriving in the Atlantic provinces by Wednesday and moving out by Thursday.
For many, the system began as snow, transitioning into ice pellets and freezing rain for areas from Windsor to Sarnia to the Niagara Region, with a risk in the western GTA as well.
Eastern Ontario and southern Quebec will remain all snow during the event. Precipitation comes to an end by Wednesday morning in those areas.
Temperature drop a major threat in Ontario
Although driving in snow and freezing rain is a challenge in itself, forecasters are also concerned about a looming temperature drop.
Temperatures will climb near the freezing mark late Tuesday and early Wednesday morning, only to drop significantly through the day.
An Arctic front will push through on Wednesday, dragging temperatures back to well below seasonal levels.
That means any slush or standing water on untreated surfaces will freeze, making for icy conditions.
Storm en route to Atlantic Canada
After a storm that came through on Monday, calmer conditions prevail for the Maritimes Tuesday, before the next storm moves in Tuesday evening.
By Wednesday, it'll be in full effect for the region, bringing 5-10 cm of snow to the Maritimes by Wednesday evening, along with 10-15 cm for the southern shores of Newfoundland by the time it moves out Thursday.