‘Up to 100 vehicles involved in multiple collisions’ in southwestern Ontario

By Michael Ranger and John Marchesan

Provincial police are pleading with motorists to stay off the roads as the massive winter storm that is blanketing southern Ontario wreaks havoc on the roadways.

OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said road and weather conditions have continued to deteriorate throughout the day with up to 100 vehicles involved in multiple collisions in the southwestern part of the province.

A stretch of Highway 401 remains closed in both directions between London and Tilbury, and Highway 402 is currently closed between London and Sarnia after a multi-vehicle crash involving more than 50 vehicles in Middlesex County.

“Drivers are out there that shouldn’t be out there,” said Schmidt in a late afternoon update. “Please, if you don’t need to be out on the roads, stay home.”

“We’ve had too many problems and we continue to respond to calls as it gets dark …it is going to be a really tough night.”

So far there have been no reports of serious injuries or fatalities as a result of the many crashes reported.

Schmidt says if you absolutely need to be out on the roads, make sure you have an emergency kit, drive safely and slowly.

“If you haven’t left, stay where you are, wait for the sytem to clear before you head out. It is just far too dangerous right now for anyone to be out on the highways.

The Peace Bridge, Rainbow Bridge and Lewiston-Queenston Bridge are all closed to traffic until further notice.

Winter storm warnings continue to blanket most of southern Ontario with Environment Canada cautioning travel will be “hazardous” due to snow, damaging winds and extreme cold temperatures on Friday and into Saturday.

“Travel will become dangerous and is not advised,” said Environment Canada.

Road clearing crews in the City of Toronto are on standby, strategically placed around the city and ready to roll into service as soon as snow begins accumulate. Crews will begin by salting roadways with hopes of limiting the impact of an expected flash freeze when temperatures quickly fall.

John Tory has warned that the cleanup from the storm could take several days due to the rain and wind that is expected to accompany the snow and ice.

Hydro One, Ontario’s largest electricity utility, said crews had already responded to “significant” power outages Friday as high winds hit regions across the province.

The Greater Toronto Airports Authority says nearly 39 per cent of all departing flights from Toronto Pearson International Airport today have been cancelled as a result of the winter storm.

It says just over 40 per cent of all arriving flights have also been cancelled due to the storm.

Spokesperson Tori Gass says “the large majority” of the cancellations are related to WestJet’s decision on Thursday to halt flights after 9 a.m. today.

She says most of the other cancellations are related to other weather systems, including a Vancouver storm and a weather system that hit the U.S. on Thursday.

Federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra says he understands the frustrations of those who’ve had holiday travel plans upended by the storm. Alghabra says the government is working with airports, airlines and industry partners to ensure everyone remains safe.

The president of the Ontario Paramedic Association says high winds, freezing rain, blowing snow and icy roads and sidewalks are leading to high call volumes for ambulances.

Darryl Wilton says paramedic services are working at “full levels” across the province as regions receive calls for road-related events as well as slips, trips and falls and “anything that you can imagine that we would have in a storm like this.”

He says slippery road conditions combined with closed and blocked roadways are making it difficult for paramedics to navigate to calls and creating conditions for level zeros, when there are no ambulance crews available to respond to a call.

The association is asking people to stay off the roads and is advising anyone at the scene of a collision to stay in their vehicles unless it’s absolutely necessary to leave them.

Files from The Canadian Press were used in this report

Top Stories

Top Stories

Most Watched Today