Major winter storm wreaks havoc on Toronto roads, Curtains Expressway and Don Valley Parkway are closed

Heavy snowfall that covered the GTA this morning has closed the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway, delaying the return to personal learning for many students.

Environment Canada has issued a blizzard warning to GTA today as residents face one of the largest winter storms in the region for years. Toronto police have temporarily shut down Gardiner and DVP due to the treacherous driving conditions.

The National Weather Agency says snowfall of up to 60 centimeters could fall in parts of the GTA before the end of the storm, which is expected to subside tonight. During the peak of the storm this morning, about eight to 10 inches of snow fell every hour.

Wind gusts of up to 60 kilometers per hour also cause snow to blow across the region.

[Click here for a photo gallery of scenes across the GTA this morning]

Speaking to Newstalk 1010 on Monday morning, Prime Minister Doug Ford, who lives in Etobicoke, called the situation on the Toronto roads “an absolute disaster.”

“I’m right in my four-by-four pickup trying to help people out. I just picked up a gentleman, dropped him off at home, but I just encourage everyone to stay home. We have buses sideways up on Dixon Road.” said Ford.

“If you can give someone a lift, get them stuck in their car, pull … give them a lift somewhere and get them home safely.”

Environment Canada warns of “very difficult or impossible” travel conditions with “near zero visibility.”

“If you get stranded in a vehicle, do not leave. The vehicle offers some form of protection against the cold. A single person walking through the snow is harder to find than a stranded car or truck,” the weather agency said in its counseling.

“If you travel and get lost, stay where you are until the blizzard is over. Protect yourself from wind, cold and disorientation by staying in shelter, indoors or with your vehicle.”

Ontario Provincial Police say there have been “numerous” reports of collisions and vehicles stuck on the roadway this morning due to the snow.

“The 401 is pretty much stopped right now,” OPP Sgt. said Kerry Schmidt Monday morning.

“Anyone who thought they were going somewhere this morning is probably coming too late when it never is, and they probably regret that they ventured out in the first place.”

A pileup involved a tractor-trailer on the Gardiner Expressway near Park Lawn Road blocking all eastbound lanes earlier this morning before the highway was completely shut down.

“It’s been an intense morning,” CP24 meteorologist Bill Coulter said Monday.

“We knew we would have a period where we would get about five to eight inches per hour, maybe in a few hours. It turned out to be maybe closer to 10 inches per hour. It’s like a snow event in an hour. , followed by another snow event in an hour. “

Many schools are switching back to distance learning

School bus - snow

The significant snowfall has also caused schools across the Toronto area to postpone the start of personal learning. Students in Ontario were to return to the classroom today for the first time in a month, but many school boards, including the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board, closed schools this morning due to bad weather. Students attending schools at TDSB and TCDSB are returning to distance learning today.

TDSB spokesman Ryan Bird acknowledged that the decision to offer distance learning today was “short notice” to many teachers and staff, who he said have been asked to do their best to offer live virtual classes or at least asynchronous learning.

“Knowing that there will be an increase in student absenteeism in the coming weeks due to Omicron … We decided we wanted to maximize learning as much as possible,” Bird told CP24 Monday morning.

“We thought it was best to get as many learning days in as possible knowing what was coming.”

Some post-secondary institutions, including Ryerson, the University of Toronto’s Mississauga campus, and Sheridan College, have canceled all personal classes today.

The dangerous conditions on the roads create many problems for GTA transit agencies today, including GO Transit.

Delays, service suspensions on GO Transit, TTC

In a post on social media, Metrolinx spokeswoman Anne Marie Aikins said on Monday that due to the “dangerous snowstorm conditions”, several GO bus routes have been temporarily suspended or adjusted this morning.

“Please follow @GotransitBus for the latest update for your bus, if it’s important that you travel this morning. If not, stay home,” she tweeted.

The TTC service has also been significantly affected by the conditions, including on the city’s busiest surface route. The 504 King Tram does not run from Bathurst to the Dufferin streets, but shuttle buses do.

“We are all dealing with this in real time. Security is always our biggest concern at TTC,” spokesman Stuart Green told CP24.

“The best thing I can advise people is to take a little extra time, pack a little patience and stay home if you can. We’ll probably get you where you need to go, but it’s going to take longer today. ”

While plows and salt trucks have been out trying to clear roads since early Monday morning, the city is urging residents to stay home.

“Road users who have to make important trips should expect delays, slippery conditions and poor visibility due to the windy wind,” read a statement from the city.

“When driving, slow down, leave more space between you and the vehicles in front, and use gentle braking, steering and acceleration.

Weather conditions have also prompted a number of other closures and cancellations around GTA, including in the Peel and York regions, where COVID-19 vaccination agreements scheduled for today have been canceled.

Waste collection has also been canceled today in various parts of the GTA and Toronto Public Library branches are now closed.

The heavy snowfall is expected to end this afternoon, but snow drifts may continue to cause poor visibility on the roads into the evening.

Tonight, the snow is expected to be replaced by cold temperatures, including wind chill values ​​hovering around -20.

An extremely cold weather alarm has been activated by Toronto’s healthcare staff today, and heating centers that were already open as a result of an earlier alarm will remain open until further notice.

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