Chaos on roads across Ontario after blast of winter weather hits the province

The Canadian Press ~ The News
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TORONTO - Drivers on roads and all major highways across Ontario slid into ditches and collided with other vehicles Sunday after a blast of winter weather delivered snow squalls and icy conditions to parts of the province.
Provincial police had received hundreds of calls about accidents involving motorists by Sunday morning alone, and their phones rang off the hook for the rest of the day.
"They're not coming in one at a time, they're coming in four, five and six at a time," Sgt. Dave Woodford said about the number of calls OPP officers responded to throughout the day.
By afternoon, Woodford said it was too difficult to calculate how many accidents emergency officials had responded to, but conditions were so treacherous, police were urging motorists to stay home.
"It's treacherous conditions. We're seeing icy roads, zero visibility, and hundreds and hundreds of crashes," he said.
Woodford said all major highways have been affected by the weather including the province's busiest Highway 401; Highway 400, which leads through cottage country to northern Ontario; and Highways 404 and 407.
The Queen Elizabeth Way in Niagara Falls closed for several hours while police cleared away wrecks.
Highway 26 near Stayner, Ont. west of Barrie, was also closed. In Hamilton, parts of Highway 403 were shut down.
The snow, sub zero temperatures, high winds and icy conditions led to multi-car pile ups on many roads.
Special collision reporting centres were set up around major highways to deal with the number of accidents.
Although there were scores of stories from drivers about cars spinning and "fender benders," Woodford said there were no major injuries from the accidents.
"We're urging motorists if they don't have to go out, don't go on the roads," said Woodford, adding some drivers were ignoring the weather conditions.
Environment Canada said most of the province had been hit by the bad weather.
"Pick a region," said Arnold Ashton, a meteorologist with Environment Canada. "There has been several that are problem areas."
The Greater Toronto Area saw several centimetres of snow fall during the day.
But in the Niagara region, and snow belts around Lake Huron and Georgian Bay, the cold weather blast dumped upwards of 30 centimetres of snow.
"It's so cold everywhere that the cold air is overrunning the relatively mild waters of the Great Lakes and generating these snow squalls," said Ashton.
"It's not pleasant being out, not only in your car, but if you have to be out walking for any duration it's just not pleasant."
Ashton said the bitter cold weather and snow squalls would likely continue for the rest of the week.

Organizations: Environment Canada

Geographic location: Ontario, TORONTO, Niagara Falls Northern Ontario Stayner Barrie Hamilton Greater Toronto Area Lake Huron Georgian Bay Great Lakes

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