toronto storm traffic

17-vehicle pileup snarls traffic as Ontario storm makes driving dangerous

A winter weather travel advisory remains very much in effect for the City of Toronto as a messy storm bears down on southern Ontario, bringing with it everything from freezing rain and flurries to ice pellets and something I can only describe as "gross slush from the sky."

The system in question is part of a Colorado low that tore across the U.S. earlier this week, leaving a trail of tornado and blizzard damage in its wake.

So nasty was the storm when it hit some states that Environment Canda started warning of its potential local impacts two days in advance.

Freezing rain marked the low pressure system's arrival in GTA Wednesday, slicking roads all over the region and beyond with dangerous amounts of ice.

Police and weather officials have been warning those in Toronto and surrounding areas to postpone or avoid travel "as a robust, far-encompassing storm affecting a good chunk of North America is en route for the second half of the work week with considerable snow, ice and rain impacts."

"Hazardous travel conditions due to heavy snow, including for the Thursday evening and Friday morning commutes," warned Environment Canada on Tuesday. "Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. Loose objects may be tossed by the wind and power outages may occur."

The TTC went so far as to temporary eliminate 41 transit stops and close down all of Line 3 in anticipation of the storm, if that's any indication of how serious things were expected to get (and still could.)

While many commuters heeded the warnings of experts and stayed indoors to wait out the worst of the storm, many jumped into their cars anyway — perhaps out of necessity — and took a chance.

This did not fare well for the people inside at least 17 vehicles that collided, pile-up style, on the Niagara Region's Garden City Skyway on Thursday morning. The Fort Erie-bound lanes on the Queen Elizabeth Way near St. Catharines were shut down for hours but have since reopened.

Collisions involving smaller quantities of vehicles have been reported all over the city today, despite ample warning from police to take it easy behind the wheel.

As the evening rush hour commences, more and more crashes and stalled vehicles are being reported and gumming up local traffic.

"If you don't need to be out, today's the day to please stay home wait for the system to pass... waiting for the salters and ploughs and responders to do their job," said OPP Highway Safety Division Sgt. Kerry Schimdt from the scene of a completely gridlocked GTA highway Thursday morning.

"We've got crashes all over the place right now and and we can't get to them. I've been stuck there. I can't even get through traffic at all. I am completely locked up. So yeah, tough day for a lot of people."

Reporting live from Mississauga late Thursday afternoon, surrounding by tow trucks and damaged vehicles, Schmidt reiterated that "you don't even be on the road today."

"This is a great day to stay home. If you're on the roads and you get involved in a wreck, get your vehicle off the highway as quickly as possible if your vehicle is still drivable. If it's not, call 911... if you don't know what to do call star O-P-P and they'll tell you where the nearest close reporting centre is."

Environment Canada is still calling for snowfall accumulations of 5 to 10 cm in Toronto before all is said and done — lower near Lake Ontario.

"Motorists should expect hazardous winter driving conditions and adjust travel plans accordingly. If visibility is reduced while driving, turn on your lights and maintain a safe following distance," reads the latest update from the federal weather agency.

"Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas."

Said Schdmit earlier of the evening hours: "it's gonna be a busy night, and when it gets dark and when the temperature continues to drop, it's going to be nasty out there. Please be careful out there if you don't need to be on the roads. Stay home."

Lead photo by

Rob's Obs

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