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Frigid winter blast slams southern Ontario

Staff writers

January 21, 2013 — Winter has made a comeback across much of southern Ontario. Snow, strong winds and bone-chilling temperatures are forecast over the next few days.

Snowfall forecast
Snowfall forecast

A powerful Alberta clipper pushed through Ontario over the weekend, bringing significant snow and dangerous driving conditions to some places.

People across southern Ontario were woken early Sunday morning by violent thundersnow, as the storm continued to move east into Quebec.

"The heaviest snow fell north of the Greater Toronto Area, with 14 cm reported in Sudbury and close to 30 cm in North Bay," says Monica Vaswani, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. 

Cold, strong northwest winds over Lake Huron and Georgian Bay have also been generating local snow squalls with reduced visibilities in some places.

On Sunday, reports of whiteout conditions across southern Ontario started pouring in, including in Barrie where a multi-vehicle pile-up closed Highway 11 northbound for several hours. Approximately 30 cars were involved in the crash. 

Blowing snow and near zero visibility also forced officials to shut down Highway 417 from Ottawa to Quebec Sunday afternoon. 

At one point, more than 100 cars travelling towards Cornwall were said to have been stranded on Highway 138.

Peak wind gusts
Peak wind gusts

Strong winds lead to widespread power outages as well. Wind gusts of over 90 km/h were recorded in several communities.

At the height of the storm, Toronto Hydro reported that around 2,000 people were without power due to the strong winds. Province wide, more than 24,000 homes and businesses were left in the dark at one point. 

"Trees and traffic lights crashed to the ground on Bathurst at Claxton Avenue in Toronto Sunday morning," said camera operator Mark Rozitis. "Some traffic lights were swinging and were then frozen solid facing the wrong direction."

"In addition to the snow and strong winds, a blast of cold Arctic air has settled into the region," says Vaswani. 

Environment Canada is warning that temperatures will be well below seasonal for much of this week. 

Residents are urged to limit their time spent outdoors as temperatures plunge as it only takes minutes before hypothermia or frostbite set in. 

"Areas north of Toronto could continue to see snow squalls through Tuesday as well," adds Vaswani. 

As a result, motorists should plan on leaving extra time to reach their destination. 

Check out Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese's take on how this winter stacks up against the last.

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