Winter storm warning declared for Toronto. TTC and city prepare for up to 25 cm of snow and ice starting Tuesday

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Winter storm warning declared for Toronto. TTC and city prepare for up to 25 cm of snow and ice starting Tuesday


Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the city of Toronto.

The weather agency issued the warning Monday afternoon, calling for high winds, between 15 and 25 centimetres of snow and ice pellets and possible freezing rain starting Tuesday morning.

“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” Environment Canada warned. “Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow. There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas.”

“We are expecting quite a bit of snow,” Environment Canada meteorologist Gerald Chang said. “If you can plan to avoid going out altogether, that’s the ideal way to deal with it.”

Meanwhile, the city, police and the TTC say they are keeping close track of the storm and preparing to take extra precautions — especially in light of the city’s last serious snowstorm in January.

Pearson airport is expecting delays and cancellations. The airport advised travellers Monday to check in with their airlines to confirm flight statuses.

For those who do go into work, the TTC is reminding riders to give themselves extra time for their commute — and asking drivers not to park in the paths of streetcars, which caused massive delays last time.

The TTC is preparing as it did last time and will have a typical number of extra staff on hand for repairs and maintenance throughout the day, as well as extra buses, spokesperson Hayley Waldman said.

The TTC is also prepared to relocate vehicles “so that they’re not as difficult to get out of the yard, if we deal with any frozen switches or things like that,” Waldman said.

“We’re very, very closely monitoring the weather at all times,” she said.

Toronto police plan to remove vehicles blocking streetcar tracks “as expeditiously as possible” by patrolling the most problematic routes, and making tow trucks readily available, spokesperson Brian Moniz said.

“Depending on the snow level and the degree of obstructions and infractions that may take place, we’re ready to mobilize our staff and provide dedicated resources to the routes,” he said.

City staff will be monitoring streetcar corridors to clear snow “as quickly as possible,” spokesperson Eric Holmes said.

The highest priority routes for snow-clearing are expressways, which the city has promised to clear within two to three hours of snowfall. Arterial roads and streetcar routes will take six to eight hours; collector roads, bus routes and all other local streets will be clear after 14-16 hours, according to the city’s levels of service commitments.

Monday night’s forecast calls for wind chill that will make it feel like -19 C overnight.

The snow will begin early Tuesday dumping between 10 and 15 cm, Chang said, before turning into ice pellets throughout the day. Winds are predicted to reach 80 km/h, contributing to blowing snow that will make it “very hard” to see on the roads, Chang said.

There is also a risk of freezing rain, and travel will likely be affected as wind chill temperatures drop to -19 C during the day.

Tuesday evening will see a switch back to snow for another five to 10 cm — the perfect amount to reduce visibility on Wednesday due to high expected wind speeds, Chang said.

The mayor and general manager of transportation services, Barbara Gray, both have the power to declare a “major snow event,” which would prohibit parking on snow routes for 72 hours.

In light of a wave of angry phone calls over delays following the last storm, Mayor John Tory sent a letter to Gray last week asking staff to review, among other things, the threshold at which a major snow event would be declared.

A major snow event has only been declared once since amalgamation — in January 1999 under former Mayor Mel Lastman.

Wednesday will see a high of -1 C and a low of -5 C.

The weather is associated with a Colorado low that will cross southern Ontario Tuesday and Wednesday.

The high winds and precipitation bring with them a chance of power outages in the region, Chang said — so be prepared with batteries and cash should things go south.

“It’s just going to be a bad Tuesday,” Chang said.

With files from Claire Floody

Rhianna Jackson-Kelso is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow her on Twitter: @RhiannaJK

Jack Hauen is a breaking news reporter, working out of the Star’s radio room in Toronto. Follow him on Twitter: @jackhauen





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