Pearson International Airport says more than 25 percent of departures and arrivals on Wednesday were canceled as a winter storm brought heavy snow to southern Ontario.
Delays and cancellations are expected, so check your flight status with your airline.
The number means that 414 departing flights and 409 arriving flights did not go ahead as planned.
Meanwhile, heavy snow in Toronto is making roads slippery and police are reporting numerous minor accidents. Police are urging motorists to slow down and drive according to weather conditions, take extra care and allow extra time to reach their destination.
“There are plows and salt spreaders on the roads, but we get a significant number of reports of minor collisions, people skidding or sliding down intersections or getting stuck on city hills,” Toronto Police Const. said Laura Brabant.
Brabant said police are asking everyone to stay home if they can, unless it’s an emergency. If residents do have to go outside, they are urged to ensure that their windshield washer fluid is topped up, that their vehicles have winter tires and are roadworthy.
‘Avoid driving unless absolutely necessary’
Ontario Premier Doug Ford also urged people to stay home on Wednesday, saying on Twitter: “Southern Ontario will receive a severe snowstorm that will cause treacherous driving conditions in many areas. Avoid driving unless absolutely necessary. “
A snowfall warning remains in effect for most of the GTA, with Environment Canada predicting between 6 and 8 inches for the region.
Toronto, Halton, Peel, York, Durham, Barrie and surrounding areas are all under snowfall warnings, with the weather bureau telling people to expect “a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas”.
Total snow accumulations of 6 to 8 inches are expected, in addition to reduced visibility in heavy snowfall, with rapidly accumulating snow that will make travel difficult.
“Isolated power outages are possible,” Environment Canada said, adding that people should prepare for rapidly changing and deteriorating travel conditions.
Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada, said he expected about 4 inches of snow between noon and 6 p.m. Wednesday, and another 4 inches in the evening and overnight through Thursday.
The snow is expected to decrease Thursday morning.
41 bus stops out of service, TTC says
Meanwhile, GO Transit says it is working with “a shortened and adjusted schedule to ensure reliability and safety for passengers”.
The TTC said in a press release Wednesday afternoon that the storm is “likely to make surface travel challenging.”
The transport company said Line 3 Scarborough SRT is currently running, but “if the weather changes to a snow event, the line will be closed and completely replaced by buses until weather permits to reopen.”
The TTC also said 41 bus stops in hilly areas that are “difficult to navigate for buses in the snow” were shut down as of 1:15 p.m. Wednesday.
York Region District School Board and York Catholic District School Board, meanwhile, said student transportation has been canceled for Thursday, but schools will remain open to students.
There will be no in-person exams at YRDSB on January 26, but virtual school exams will continue as scheduled.
Sheridan College said it closed its campuses for the evening at 4 p.m. All scheduled physical classes will be cancelled, while virtual classes will continue.
City closes libraries, zoo, recreational programs
The City of Toronto said community recreation centers and indoor arenas would close at 6 p.m. All instruction, walk-in programs and permits had been canceled as of 4:30 p.m., the city said in a press release.
After-school programs and childcare facilities will remain open until all participants are picked up. Outdoor artificial turf leisure programs continue, but educational programs and skate rentals are cancelled.
All Toronto Public Library branches and buildings closed at 4:30 pm on Wednesday, while the Toronto Zoo closed at 2:00 pm
More snow expected on Sunday
On Wednesday afternoon, the city said city-wide salt work had begun, while in Scarborough, sidewalk, segregated bike path and bus stop clearing had begun.
“The city is monitoring the weather forecast and road conditions and is deploying crews and equipment as needed,” the city said in the release.
The city said plowing will begin once snow reaches 2.5 inches on highways, 5 inches on major roads, transit routes and streets with hills, and 8 inches on residential streets.
City of Toronto crews and contractors were busy Tuesday night applying liquid brine to highways, bridges, hills and priority intersections, said Vincent Sferrazza, director of maintenance and operations at transportation services.
Sferrazza said he expects the storm to require six to eight shifts on main roads and up to three shifts on local streets.
“This is going to take a few days, we’re going into the weekend,” he says. “It’s all hands on deck, we’re ready to go.”
Sferrazza added that some snow may also need to be cleared, particularly for protected cycle paths, tram routes, bus stops and pedestrian paths. That work would begin on the weekend and continue into next week.
“I ask our residents to be patient. Let our operators go ahead, let them finish. And then they can certainly notify us via 311 to identify areas that we may have missed or may still have work to do. ” said Sferrazza.
Warming centers open in the evening
The city also said it will open three heating centers for people experiencing homelessness beginning at 7 p.m. at the Scarborough Civic Center at 150 Borough Dr., Metro Hall at 55 John St. and Mitchell Field Community Center at 89 Church Ave.
The warming centers provide a covered and warm place to rest and access snacks, sanitation and emergency shelter referrals.
City officials say they expect another two to three inches of snow on Sunday.