The City of Toronto has declared a “major snowstorm condition” prohibiting parking on certain roads as much of southern Ontario digs out of the up to 30 centimetres worth of snow that fell in under 16 hours.
A major snowstorm condition is declared when at least five centimetres of snow has fallen and when snow removal operations need to take place.
During this time, drivers will not be able to park on “designated snow routes” for a period of 72 hours.
“Snow removal, if you’ll remember from last year is the process of picking up the snow and moving it to a designated snow dump site, thus clearing the area and eliminating safety and accessibility issues,” General Manager of Transportation Services Barbara Gray said on Saturday.
“We anticipate that snow removal won’t begin until Monday evening after plowing operations have concluded.”
Gray said the city is declaring a major snowstorm condition today in an effort to give drivers time to move their vehicles. Signs will be posted that will identify what roads are being considered snow routes.
Vehicles that remain parked on a designated snow route could be towed and drivers could be subject to a fine of up to $200.
Gray also warned that it was going “to take some time” to complete the snow removal process and that drivers, pedestrians and cyclists should give themselves extra travel time and be cautious of everyone around them.
A major snowstorm condition can be cancelled sooner than 72 hours, although city officials say it will likely be extended due to the amount of snow that fell on the Greater Toronto Area.
‘ALMOST HALF A WINTER’S WORTH OF SNOW’
The storm struck around 6 p.m. on Friday night, causing power outages as well as thunder and lightening across much of Ontario.
“In the last 10 days, we have had almost half a winter’s worth of snow,” Dave Phillips, Senior Climatologist for Environment Canada, told CP24.
“Since Feb. 22 we’ve had about 50 centimeters of snow. We still haven’t finished counting this one, but it really has been a blanket of snow in the last week and a half.”
Residents also witnessed an unusual event called ‘thundersnow,’ which occurs when an air mass becomes so unstable that it turns violent. It is most common in the Great Lakes region, according to the Farmer’s Almanac, but tends to be rare.
Phillips added that milder temperatures with high moisture likely contributed to the weather event.
“It’s a good old fashioned thunderstorm and you often, because of the atmospheric conditions, get more snow from that kind of event then just from a storm that might move through southern Ontario.”
The flurries finally tapered off mid-Saturday morning. Crews in Toronto are still ploughing the roadways, with officials saying some service requests for snow clean-up have been temporarily suspended online.
“Please call 311 if your request is urgent,” officials said on social media.
Vincent Sferrazza, director of operations and maintenance of transportation for the City of Toronto, told reporters Saturday that it’s “all hands on deck” to clear the snow.
About 1,100 pieces are out on the roads this weekend.
“We’ve been planning for this event for over a week and getting the snow dumpsites ready and mobilizing our removal crews in advance,” Sferrazza said.
Meanwhile, Toronto Hydro says they are responding to reports of some downed wires and localized power outages.
“We are not able to provide ETRs at this moment, but please know our crews are working as quickly and safely as possible.”
Hundreds of flights departing and arriving into Toronto Pearson International Airport have been cancelled as a result of the storm.
As of 4 p.m. on Saturday, about 35 per cent of flights leaving the airport, have been cancelled.
Another 38 per cent of flights coming into the airport have also been cancelled.
Officials said the conditions at the airport are improving but the snow is heavy and high winds are making snow clearing difficult.
“The proactive steps taken by airlines to cancel or delay flights was helpful and we’re working to support them as they get back on schedule,” officials said in a statement.
“Passengers should be aware that further delays and cancellations are possible as we all work through the impacts of this major winter storm.”
Officials also said that staffing has been impacted, and that passengers may experience delays and longer than usual lines.
“We expect the situation to continually improve throughout the day.”
Just over 18 centimetres of snow fell on Toronto on Friday, according to Environment Canada, however some areas north of the city were struck by anywhere from 20 to 30 centimetres.
Frank Seglenieks, the weather station coordinator at the University of Waterloo, said that London and north of Toronto were the most hard hit.
“It seems to maybe have gotten on the high end of that 30 (centimetres), maybe even a little over the 30,” Seglenieks told CP24.
“Once you get over 20 centimeters, that’s going to take a lot of shoveling to get out and a lot of time to get your car out. So if you have to get anywhere this morning, make sure you factor in, let’s say half an hour, to get your car totally brushed off getting out to the driveway and getting out to a road that is actually plowed.”
The TTC says there is no subway service between Kennedy and McCowan stations on Line 3 due to the weather conditions. Shuttle buses are running.
Environment Canada is predicting a high of 2 C in Toronto on Saturday, with an increase in cloudiness later in the evening.
On Sunday the temperature is set to increase to about 7 C, with a 40 per cent chance of flurries.