There's no denying it - winter weather has arrived in Ontario. And now, another round of snow squalls is a concern in areas along the shores of the Great Lakes through Sunday. Areas like Trenton, Parry Sound and south of Wawa are getting hit.
Southern Ontario's latest squalls are farther north than the intense ones that stranded drivers in the southwestern part of the province in recent days. The new squalls are also “somewhat disorganized and meandering,” according to Environment Canada. That means there is a lower chance that the squalls will dump a huge amount of snow in a small area.
But there is the potential for reduced visibility, drifting snow and whiteout conditions on the roads. Officials continue to remind drivers to pack a survival kit when planning for the winter months ahead.
SOUTHWESTERN ONTARIO'S SNOW EMERGENCY
Middlesex, Huron and Perth counties still have plenty of clean-up to do after days of squall activity earlier in the week. Authorities issued a state of emergency Monday night after hundreds of drivers were left stranded on Highway 402 near Sarnia.
Camera Operator Mark Rozitis was in the thick of the storm and says the huge snow drifts made visibility next to impossible. “This was the worst snowstorm, the worst blizzard that I've ever covered and I've been doing this for 15 years and I've never not been able to get in to an area that's been hit by a snowstorm,” he says.
Police relied on snowmobiles and 4 x 4 vehicles to get through the dangerous conditions and military helicopters were sent to the area to provide assistance with rescue efforts as well.
The motorists were all rescued from the 402, but the body of a 41 year-old man was found in a field next to Golf Course Line near Ridgetown. He was about 50 metres from his vehicle, which was stuck in a snow drift.
An autopsy found the cause of death to be extended exposure to the cold. The family of the man says he had a storm safety kit in his car, but he left his vehicle behind after it was caught in a snowdrift. He was trying to walk to work.
Highway 402 was re-opened in both directions Thursday, but motorists were warned to use caution.
While this was a trying time for stranded motorists and rescue teams, it will certainly be remembered as a storm that brought the community together. Police say drivers used a buddy system to band together and help save fuel. Warming centres were also opened in Wyoming, Watford, Forest and Warwick to provide shelter and food for anyone near the affected area.
“I was pretty fortunate,” recalls one stranded motorist. “I got off the highway in time. I was warned by another truck driver that the weather wasn't good going to Sarnia and that's where I needed to go. And so I ended up in Strathroy at a parking lot of a superstore and I've been fine and warm with lots to eat.”
Heavy snow also piled up in London. That forced the closure of several schools in the area on Wednesday, including The University of Western Ontario and Fanshawe College.
To stay up-to-date on current weather conditions in your area be sure to check the local forecast. You can also tune in to The Weather Network on TV for coverage of the latest storms.
With files from Matt Casey, Lyndsay Morrison and Lisa Varano