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Flash freeze slides over southern Ontario

Blowing snow will make driving a challenge
Blowing snow will make driving a challenge

Beverley Ann D'Cruz and Lisa Varano, staff writers

December 13, 2010 — Brutal wind chill suddenly returned to southern Ontario on Sunday night. Drivers warned of icy, dangerous roads.

Snow squalls and an Arctic blast
Snow squalls and an Arctic blast

It's a biting cold start to the work week in southern Ontario. That means dress warm and be patient with the morning commute.

The drastic weather change started Sunday night as a winter storm swept through the province, bringing rain and wet snow to the region. Temperatures dropped from the freezing mark on Sunday evening to about -12.2 overnight in Toronto.

With the plunging temperatures came warnings from Environment Canada of flash freezing in places like Toronto and the Greater Toronto Area, Hamilton, Niagara and Cobourg. On Sunday night, several car crashes prompted the police to shut down Highways 401 and 402 for some time.The CAA received more than 3500 calls from the south central region for a tow truck.

Come 9am on Monday morning, and the number of calls to the CAA was already at around 500. This time 'light' services like battery boosts were the top requests. The wait time for this level of service was around 45 minutes in the GTA and Hamilton. However, for London, Peterborough and Orillia, it was 75 minutes or more.

And it's not over yet. “Behind the system, we will see an Arctic blast -- snow squalls, gusty winds, the freezing of any slush on the ground, and very cold temperatures,” says Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

Snow starting to make it feel like the holidays
Snow starting to make it feel like the holidays

As a result, drivers are being cautioned that the route to work on Monday morning could be a slippery one. They are being that asked to watch for blowing snow or accumulating snow that could also reduce visibility to near zero. Hence, commuters are being urged to drive cautiously and leave plenty of time to get to their destination.

Starting earlier today, weather warnings from Environment Canada are already in place for areas spanning from Pembroke to Belleville to Sarnia and from Timmins to Toronto. Strong northerly winds coming off the Great Lakes continue to intensify snow squalls in Sarnia, London and Goderich and will persist through the day.

Over the weekend snow packed a punch in Windsor, which got over 24 cm of snow. Wiarton was a close second with 24 cm, followed by over 20 cm in Sudbury and 17.8 cm in North Bay. Ottawa, Toronto and Trenton received around 1 cm snow. Plows in London have been busy clearing away the massive snowfall produced by snow squalls last week. The plow crews were still at work on Sunday night. They tried to remove as much snow and slush as possible before the cold air moved in.

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