Winter storm hits Toronto with snow and strong winds; hundreds of flights at Pearson canceled

A winter storm hit southern Ontario on Friday night, bringing heavy snow, strong winds and, in some cases, lightning.

Hundreds of flights were canceled at Toronto’s Pearson Airport and some had to divert to other airports due to the conditions. The snow combined with gusty winds also caused dangerous driving conditions on the road.

Here’s what you need to know about the storm, including when conditions will improve.


For most of the afternoon, Toronto, Peel Region, Durham Region and some areas of Halton Region were under a winter storm warning.

“Heavy snow at times is expected to transition to periods of rain tonight as temperatures rise above freezing,” Environment Canada said in its advisory, which was lifted shortly after 11:30 p.m.

Environment Canada said the storm was expected to dump between 10 and 25 centimeters of snow on Saturday morning. He added that maximum snowfall rates ranged between five and eight centimeters per hour.

In addition to snow, strong gusts of wind were also forecast, which considerably reduced visibility.

Several residents also reported seeing lightning while snow was falling, a phenomenon commonly called “snowing.”

Environment Canada said travel should be avoided if possible due to hazardous driving conditions.


The storm has forced some flights arriving at Toronto’s Pearson Airport to be diverted, and hundreds more were delayed or canceled due to heavy snow.

According to the Toronto Pearson website, at least 14 flights were classified as “deviant.” Of the 485 departures scheduled for Friday, 17.11 percent were canceled starting at 11:20 p.m. That’s approximately 82 flights.

Meanwhile, 19.59 percent of the 485 scheduled arrivals, or about 95 flights, were cancelled. Dozens more were delayed.

Speaking to CP24 this afternoon, Sean Davidson, spokesperson for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority (GTAA), said passengers should expect delays or cancellations due to snow.

“Airlines are adapting their schedules to what we can currently accommodate at the airport based on conditions,” he said.

He added that the GTAA is collaborating with airlines and NAV Canada to make strategic decisions about airport operations during the storm.

“Those conditions come down to simply making sure the runways are clear enough for us to land and take off planes. There’s a huge airfield we’re dealing with, and our specialized snow crew needs to get out and have time to clear the snow before planes can take off and land,” Davidson said.

“So there are a lot of complexities involved in ensuring that runways, taxiways and aprons are safe for planes to take off.”


As the snow began to fall, police reminded motorists to drive carefully and make sure their vehicles were prepared for the storm.

“There is a potential for significant snow accumulation and the rain will certainly make this a challenge as well,” said Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said in a video posted on social media.

“Those gusts of wind can often catch you by surprise if you’re on the highway. Stay clear of traffic in front of you. Make sure you’re aware of your surroundings. Share the road safely and responsibly.”

Police in Toronto and Peel reported incidents of falling debris and downed power and utility poles due to high winds.

There were also reports of drivers stuck on snow-covered hills. An ambulance was forced to turn around on Don Mills Road, near Don Valley Parkway, because it was blocked by vehicles struggling in the snow.


According to Environment Canada, some areas would experience a transition from snow to periods of rain overnight or early Saturday. However, the rain will change to periods of snow later in the morning as cold air moves in.

“In the wake of this system, much colder Arctic air will establish itself across the region,” the federal weather agency said.

“A multi-day lake effect snow event is expected in locations east of the Great Lakes, resulting in additional snow accumulations in some communities.”

In Toronto, local blowing snow is possible early Saturday afternoon due to strong winds. The city could see an additional two centimeters of snowfall.

Temperatures will drop from a high of 2 C to -2 C in the afternoon with a wind chill of -10 C.

Conditions are expected to improve overnight. Next week temperatures are expected to fall below zero degrees, to a low of -13C on Tuesday.

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