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Toronto winter storm updates: More than a third of flights cancelled at Pearson airport; up to 100 vehicles involved in collisions on 401


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Toronto winter storm updates: More than a third of flights cancelled at Pearson airport; up to 100 vehicles involved in collisions on 401

A winter storm has arrived, bringing freezing rain, heavy snow and ice pellets across Toronto and parts of southern Ontario on Friday. Follow the Star’s weather file for updates on the weather, traffic, school closures, potential delays at Pearson and more.

Here’s the latest on the storm:

8:50 p.m.: Westjet says its operations are scheduled to resume in Toronto starting 7 a.m. Saturday. The airline cancelled 333 flights Friday and 24 flights Saturday.

8:30 p.m.: Hydro One says it has restored power to more than 110,000 customers across Ontario, although approximately 70,000 are still without power due to the storm.

More outages are expected as the storm continues through the night and into Christmas Eve. If spotted, Hydro One warns to keep at least 10 m away from fallen power lines.

“Our skilled team is working tirelessly to make repairs and restore power in areas that have been affected,” said David Lebeter, CEO of Hydro One, in a statement. “We know how difficult it is to be without power, especially during the holidays, and we want to thank our customers for their patience.”

5:50 p.m.: The U.S. military agency known for tracking Santa Claus as he delivers presents on Christmas Eve doesn’t expect COVID-19 or the “bomb cyclone” hitting North America to affect Saint Nick’s global travels.

NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, is responsible for monitoring and defending the skies above North America.

But the Colorado Springs, Colo.-based agency also runs the NORAD Tracks Santa service, which allows people to follow his Christmas journey through its noradsanta.org website, social media channels and mobile app.

5:20 p.m.: 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.

Media relations advisor 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.

5 p.m.: 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 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.

In Ottawa, all available paramedics have been deployed across the city, Wilton said. They’ve hired a roster of new paramedics who are encountering their first ever large snowstorm.

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.

“For the love of Mother Nature, please slow down and move over for emergency vehicles,” Wilton said.

4:37 p.m. Billy Bishop airport announced that all remaining Porter Airlines flights will be cancelled for the day. The airport said in an earlier tweet that Air Canada also cancelled all its flights for the day.

The airport also announced that ferry service to the Toronto Islands is out of service. Instead, bus service will run from the airport to Wards Island every two hours according to this schedule.

4:33 p.m. Environment Canada upgraded Hamilton’s winter storm warning to a blizzard warning Friday afternoon.

The blizzard conditions bring with them wind gusts of 100 to 110 km/h and five to 15 cm of snowfall by Saturday morning. The blizzard is expected subside Saturday morning, with snow tapering into flurries.

4:30 p.m.: Roads in the area of University Ave. and Dundas St. west are closed due to the weather, according to Toronto police.

Southbound University Ave. will be closed from Elm St. to Dundas St.

4:25 p.m.: Hydro One says nearly 70,000 customers are left in the dark heading into the evening as gusting winds damage power lines.

Ontario’s largest hydro provider said it’s restored power to more than 60,000 customers across the province since the beginning of the storm.

Yet as the GTA and parts of Southern Ontario are expected to fall under a blizzard warning, Hydro One forecasts outages to keep spreading.

Toronto Hydro said it currently isn’t assessing any major power outages due to the storm.

3:52 p.m.: The holiday plans of thousands of people have been disrupted as bad weather forces the cancellation of large swathes of flights across the country.

Here are some frequently asked questions, and tips, about what to do if it happens to you.

3:46 p.m.: All roads in Dufferin County, northwest of Brampton, have been closed due to the winter storm, according to the OPP.

3:30 p.m.: The OPP says all westbound lanes of Highway 401 in a stretch of central Ontario are closed due to visibility issues.

A portion of the busy highway is also closed between Tilbury and London as road conditions worsen.

OPP have said up to 100 vehicles have been involved in multiple collisions on the Highway 401 corridor in southwestern Ontario.

OPP in South Bruce say Highway 21 has also been closed from Amberley to Saugeen First Nation and plows have stopped working, both due to high winds and blowing snow.

3:15 p.m.: Hydro crews in Ottawa were making steady progress solving power outages city-wide by mid-day, but warned more were still possible as temperatures are set to start dropping.

The utility said by mid-afternoon, about 8,600 customers were out of power due to strong winds, heavy snow and freezing rain.

Ottawa Public Health put out its own statement reminding people to be careful while shoveling the snow.

“When inevitably shovelling this evening, please take it easy & pace yourself,” the agency wrote.

“Push the snow instead of throwing it & lift small amounts at a time. If you are experiencing chest pain while shoveling, stop and call 911 immediately.”

3:05 p.m.: Toronto is expanding capacity at its Metro Hall warming centre to service the influx of people looking to escape the storm.

Staff are working to nearly double the hall’s capacity to 80, from its original 45. Should demand exceed this, the city will “support transportation from Metro Hall to other Warming Centres – a standard practice during Extreme Cold Weather Alerts – to ensure everyone has a warm, safe place while we wait for the storm system to pass,” according to a statement from city staff.

2:59 p.m.: With a few exceptions, all recreation centres, arenas and conservatories operated by the City of Toronto have closed due to the winter storm. The Mitchell Field Community Centre in North York is open as a warming centre, and Agincourt, John Innes and Regent Park Community Centre will remain open as respite sites.

2:43 p.m.: Roughly one in three flights have been cancelled flying into or out of Pearson Airport, leaving thousands of travellers stranded for the holidays.

Pearson’s dashboard Friday afternoon shows 37 per cent of departures and arrivals, or 179 and 178 flights respectively, have already been cancelled so far, while many others are experiencing hours-long delays.

Operations at Billy Bishop Airport have also been affected by the winter storm, as most Ontario-based flights arriving and departing at the downtown island terminal have now been cancelled.

Ports Toronto told the Star all remaining Air Canada flights were cancelled, while Porter Airlines has halted most of its departing and arriving flights in the terminal.

Porter Airlines said most of their passengers would be rescheduled after Christmas day, while Air Canada urges passengers planning on travelling Friday to reschedule their flights free of charge until Dec. 31.

2:14 p.m.: “You don’t want to be caught in this,” reads the tweet from OPP West Region after multiple collisions force shutdowns of a busy stretch of the 401 in southwestern Ontario.

Middlesex OPP media officer Cst. Jeff Hare called the situations on the 401 and 402 corridor “one of the worst traffic scenes” he’s ever witnessed after reports more than 100 vehicles were involved in numerous collisions. No serious injuries have been reported. Two people were taken to hospital with non-life threatening injuries.

Photos shared by OPP show debris from the collision littering the snow on the side of the road and a transport truck rolled over onto its side.

Durham police traffic services division says roads are icy and covered with blowing snow, and winds are gusting over 100 km/hr, adding multiple collisions have been reported on all 400 series highways.

In an earlier tweet, OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt told drivers who don’t need to be on the roads to stay home, as the driving conditions as the day goes on are only expected to get worse.

2:04 p.m.: All history museums operated by the City of Toronto, including the Spadina Museum and Scarborough Museum, are now closed Friday and Saturday due to severe weather conditions.

1:55 p.m.: The OPP are responding to a massive collision involving more than 50 vehicles on Highway 402 near Kerwood Road. Highway 402 from London to Sarnia is closed in light of collisions and deteriorating conditions.

1:47 p.m.: Due to severe weather conditions across the country, Canada Post said postal delivery in every province and territory has been significantly impacted. The Crown corporation has suspended service altogether in many regions.

“Although recovery efforts are underway to get some delivery on December 24 where warranted, these efforts will be pending weather and road conditions as we prioritize the safety of our employees,” Canada Post said in a tweet. “Regular delivery operations will resume on Wednesday, December 28.”

1:20 p.m. (Update) Roughly 300,000 customers are without power as a major winter storm hits Ontario and Quebec.

Hydro-Québec says over 241,000 customers are without power as of noon, with the largest outages affecting the Capitale-Nationale, Outaouais, Estrie, Laurentides and Montérégie regions.

Meanwhile, Hydro One says more than 50,000 customers are without power across most of southern Ontario, while Hydro Ottawa says outages are currently affecting 11,500 customers.

About 30,000 customers are without power in central Ontario, with outages stretching from north of Peterborough to south of Algonquin Provincial Park.

1:03 p.m.: All Toronto Public Libraries closed at 11:30 a.m. Friday morning due to deteriorating weather conditions. Libraries are scheduled to open from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Dec. 24, but they’ll be closed from Dec. 25 to 27.

12:40 p.m.: More than 500 outages in Ontario have left nearly 54,000 customers without power on Friday, says Hydro One.

Gusting winds continue to whip across most of the province, damaging power lines. More widespread outages are expected as blizzard warnings blanket many parts of Ontario.

According to the hydro provider, most of the power will be restored by the end of Saturday evening, while some customers will have to wait longer — possibly until next week.

12:40 p.m.: Environment Canada is forecasting freezing rain for much of British Columbia’s south coast, with the agency warning of icy accumulations between five and 25 millimetres.

Vancouver International Airport says the freezing rain will arrive on top of as much as 14 centimetres of snow that fell overnight.

BC Hydro says more than 5,000 customers are without power across the province, with the largest outages concentrated across Vancouver Island and on the Lower Mainland.

12:40 p.m.: An operations manager for Beck Taxi warns that wait times have “steadily increased” and the company can no longer guarantee that customers will receive service as roads deteriorate in Toronto.

“There are accidents all across the City of #Toronto,” read a tweet from Kristine Hubbard. “Drivers are making the difficult decision to stay safe by going home. We support that decision and believe it is the right one. Take care.”

12:30 p.m.: Up to 100 vehicles have been involved in collisions across southwestern Ontario, warn the OPP, as the worst of the storm makes its way into Toronto and the GTA.

Highway 401 between Tilbury, Ont. and London is closed in both directions due to accidents, along with some stretches of Highway 402.

More to come.

11:25 a.m.: Federal emergency preparedness minister Bill Blair is giving an update from transit agencies and emergency services: Stay put if you can, and keep off the roads.

“We’re monitoring the severe winter weather happening across the country, and I encourage all Canadians in impacted regions to avoid unnecessary travel and to stay safe,” read a tweet from Blair.

The Ontario Provincial Police say some areas are experiencing low to zero visibility due to the snow.

11:15 a.m.: Toronto Pearson International Airport and Ottawa International Airport are advising travellers to check their flight status before leaving for the airport.

Earlier, WestJet cancelled all flights at airports in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia, with affected airports including those in Toronto, Ottawa, London, Ont., Waterloo, Ont., and Montreal.

Air Canada says it has cancelled “a number of flights” in Ottawa, Montreal and Toronto today, including all its flights out of Toronto’s downtown island airport.

11:10 a.m.: Twenty-six thousand customers in Ottawa were without power mid-morning with Hydro Ottawa warning it could take its crews into the night to restore service in the wake of heavy winds.

Major museums in the nation’s capital, including the War Museum and the National Art Gallery, have been closed due to weather, as have most of the city’s schools and municipal facilities.

Traffic lights were out at many intersections, and police have reported multiple collisions throughout the morning, including on the highways leading in and out of the city.

But federal Transport Minister Omar Alghabra didn’t hesitate to sign-off on one important traveller’s plans: Santa Claus.

The annual tradition of the federal government “clearing” Santa for travel took off as scheduled.

11 a.m.: Porter Airlines warns that several Ontario-based flights may be cancelled this afternoon due to freezing rain and heavy snow.

The airline says travellers are being offered a complimentary move for any scheduled flights between today and tomorrow, through to Dec. 26.

“We understand that many of our passengers are flying for the holidays and we apologize for the inconvenience this may have caused,” said Porter Airlines via Twitter, which also urged customers to check their flight status online.

Porter says they are putting plans in place to ensure that operations resume tomorrow.

11 a.m.: Hydro Quebec says the Outaouais, Laurentian and Capitale-Nationale regions are currently the most affected by the winter storm.

It says crews are working to restore power to more than 200,000 customers.

Hydro One, Ontario’s largest electricity utility, says crews have already responded to “significant” power outages this morning as high winds hit regions across the province.

10:45 a.m.: As a proactive measure, spokesperson Matt Llewellyn said Metrolinx implemented its snow plan — for the second time in five years — to make sure it could continue safe and reliable service regardless of how bad the weather gets.

Peak service on GO transit has been reduced, meaning when commuters typically wait five to 10 minutes between trains during rush hour, they may now be waiting 10 to 15 minutes in between trains, Llewellyn said. Express trains will also not be running.

With snow and flash freezing forecasted, Llewellyn said this will likely create some delays and cancellations for GO buses, particularly in the Niagara region where winds up to 100 km/hr are expected by this afternoon.

Lewellyn said Metrolinx is asking GO bus customers to consider GO trains as an alternative today as service is “far more reliable.”

Early homebound services will also not be running. Go Transit customers are encouraged to check the GO Transit website before heading out and give themselves extra time in their commute.

The UP Express will continue to run on a full schedule.

10:30 a.m.: Shuttle buses have replaced all Line 3 Scarborough RT train services due to weather conditions.

Buses are expected to run between Kennedy and McCowan Stations.

10 a.m.: The Ontario Provincial Police want drivers to stay off the roads if they can.

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OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt tweeted a video from a salt yard in Mississauga. “Every available piece of equipment is out,” Schmidt said, as salter trucks and other road maintenance vehicles get ready to leave the station.

“The less traffic that’s out there, the easier it is for these crews to get their job done. If you don’t need to be out on the roads, this is a great time to stay home, wait for the system to pass, wait for the salters and plows to clear the highways before you head out,” Schmidt warned.

Police say if Ontarians absolutely need to be out on the roads, they should pay extra close attention to the traffic, especially road maintenance vehicles who are out doing their jobs, leave themselves plenty of time and space to get where they’re going, and be aware of just how quickly the road conditions can change.

9:50 a.m.: Parts of Ontario are now under blizzard warnings, as Environment Canada says dangerous travel conditions could start this evening and last into Saturday making it “extremely difficult to impossible” to get around.

The warning has been issued for a number of areas in northern and southern Ontario, including Barrie, Brockville, Dufferin-Innisfil, Grey-Bruce area, Huron-Perth, Kingston, Niagara, Muskoka and Waterloo.

Environment Canada says blizzard conditions with wind gusts up to 90 km/h could see utility outages throughout the region with snowfall amounts for some parts between 25 to 50 centimetres by Saturday night, with wind chills making it feel closer to minus 20.

Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow, says the weather agency, asking people to protect themselves from wind, cold and disorientation by staying sheltered, indoors or in your vehicle. Temperatures this cold means frostbite and hypothermia can occur quickly, and pets should be kept indoors.

9:40 a.m.: Nearly 30,000 Ontarians were left in the dark overnight due to the winter storm.

Hydro One told the Star that major power outages have spread primarily in Eastern and Central Ontario, in the Arnprior, Winchester, Perth, Bancroft and Minden regions.

Ontario’s rural electricity provider said high-speed gusting winds have mainly interrupted power service tolling poles and damaging power lines. Environment Canada has forecasted wind gusts breaching 70 km/h in most provinces Thursday afternoon.

Hydro One said more outages might be widespread during the day.

Power restoring crews have been deployed in some parts of Ontario, but their efforts might be delayed by hazardous road conditions. No timeline has been set for the power restoration so far.

Toronto Hydro said that as of Thursday morning, no major power outages had been reported due to the storm.

9:32 a.m.: Toronto has issued an extreme cold weather alert after Environment Canada predicted a temperature of -15°C or colder in the city, or a wind chill of -20°C or colder.

Mayor John Tory said warming centres will open Thursday and Friday night, at the Scarborough Civic Centre, Metro Hall and the Mitchell Field Community Centre. Access to the warming centres will available on a walk-in basis.

9:22 a.m.: WestJet is cancelling all flights in and out of Vancouver, Abbotsford, Victoria, Nanaimo and Comox until Friday afternoon depending on weather conditions.

The airline is also proactively cancelling all flights to and from Toronto, London, Ottawa, Waterloo and Quebec beginning at 9 a.m. Friday morning, with a tentative plan to resume flights depending on weather conditions on Saturday, Christmas Eve.

“The GTAA understands WestJet’s decision to cancel all operations for Ottawa, Montreal, London, Kitchener and Hamilton for today, including inbound and outbound flights to Toronto Pearson. All travellers to Pearson should check their flights status and follow air carrier advice,” Pearson airport tweeted on Friday in response.

9:15 a.m.: A major winter storm bearing down on Ontario and Quebec cancelled flights, closed schools and threatened widespread power outages Friday, with an Environment Canada meteorologist warning of a possible once-in-a-decade weather event.

“We may only see one of these storms every five or 10 years,” said Environment Canada meteorologist Mitch Meredith. “I’ve only seen a couple of storms like this in the last 20 years.”

9 a.m.: Shortly after 8 a.m., Hydro-Québec said the storm system that has brought with it snow, rain and strong wind gusts has resulted in power outages for more than 110,000 customers in the Outaouais, Laurentides and Quebec City areas.

Crews are working to restore service to the affected areas as soon as possible, said Hydro-Québec, but warns the storm is still ongoing and will move to other regions through the day, likely causing more outages in other areas.

The hydro provider will continue to monitor the situation closely.

8:55 a.m.: At a press conference at city hall Friday morning, Mayor John Tory warned snow plowing operations would likely be a “multi-day event.” He said that if strong winds hit the city as forecast, they will likely blow snow over already-plowed roads, requiring the city to do multiple passes.

“When one round finishes the next one begins,” he said.

Tory also cautioned that the city has not pre-treated roadways with salt as it often does before snowstorms, because the rain overnight and into Friday morning would have simply washed it away. He said salting operations will begin once temperatures drop and the rain turns to snow, which he said could happen as early as 9 a.m.

The city has 1,100 pieces of plows and other storm equipment, and has positioned them at strategic locations across the city to be quickly deployed once the threshold for plowing and salting operations are met.

The mayor asked residents to stay home if possible, and for drivers to avoid parking on major arterials to make room for plows.

Ben Spurr

8:40 a.m.: Toronto Metropolitan University has closed its campus for any in-person activities ahead of the winter storm. Remote work will continue and employees who provide “essential on-site services” are asked to check in with leaders.

Kelly Skjerven

8:25 a.m.: Toronto’s Pearson Airport is re-sharing its message from Thursday about the incoming storm, advising passengers to “check their flights status and follow air carrier advice” ahead of their planned departures and arrivals. You can read the full release here.

8 a.m.: Mayor John Tory has provided an update on city storm preparedness at city hall, Ben Spurr reports. Says latest info from Environment Canada is the current rain could turn to snow as early as 9 a.m.

7:30 a.m.: Environment Canada has updated its warnings and alerts for the incoming storm this morning:

For the city of Toronto and surrounding areas:

-Wind gusts up to 90 km/h resulting in widespread blowing snow which will reduce visibility to near zero at times. Utility outages are possible.

-Snowfall amounts of 5 to 15 cm by Saturday morning.

-Wind chill values into the minus twenties.

-Flash freeze producing icy and slippery surfaces.

For the City of Hamilton:

-Major winter storm expected today into Saturday.

-Travel will become hazardous and is not advised.

-Wind gusts of 100 to 110 km/h resulting in widespread blowing snow which will reduce visibility to near zero at times. Utility outages are possible.

-Snowfall amounts of 5 to 15 cm by Saturday morning.

-Wind chill values into the minus twenties.

-Flash freeze producing icy and slippery surfaces.

6:25 a.m.: Thousands of flights were cancelled and homeless shelters were overflowing Thursday amid one of the most treacherous holiday travel seasons the U.S. has seen in decades, with temperatures plummeting 50 degrees Fahrenheit in some areas and forecasters warning of an impending “bomb cyclone” that could make conditions even worse before Christmas.

The frigid air was moving through the central United States to the east, with wind chill advisories affecting about 135 million people over the coming days, weather service meteorologist Ashton Robinson Cook said Thursday. Places like Des Moines, Iowa, will feel like minus 37 degrees, making it possible to suffer frostbite in less than five minutes.

“This is not like a snow day when you were a kid,” President Joe Biden warned Thursday in the Oval Office after a briefing from federal officials. “This is serious stuff.”

Read the full story from the Associated Press

Friday 6:15 a.m.: Before a single flake fell, a wave of pre-emptive school closures and other preparations hit Toronto and the GTA ahead of the storm that was set to wallop the area just ahead of Christmas.

All week, forecasters have warned of a fierce winter storm — some have called it a “weather bomb” — heading to the city by Friday and predicted that rain, followed by a rapid plunge in temperatures, snow and gusting winds that could cause chaos stretching into the weekend.

For days, Environment Canada has urged many Canadians to reconsider their holiday travel plans, calling for wind gusts of up to 90 km/h and snowfall between 5 to 15 centimetres by Saturday morning for Toronto.

The storm could also bring massive waves to all five of the Great Lakes, with Lake Ontario likely to see waves as high as six metres, according to U.S. Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Read the full story from the Star’s Christine Dobby.

Thursday 10:11 p.m.: WestJet is cancelling flights to and from Toronto, London, Ottawa, Waterloo and Quebec starting Friday at 9 a.m. A restart is dependent on weather conditions by Saturday. Meanwhile, Air Canada now is offering customers refunds or vouchers for flights booked on or before Dec. 21 that were for Dec. 22 to 26.

Thursday 7:50 p.m.: Travellers across Canada are scrambling to escape a cascade of disruptions triggered by heavy snow that paralyzed Vancouver’s airport this week, as fresh winter storms bear down on southern B.C. and Ontario.

The weather system of frigid cold in British Columbia could lift by Christmas Eve, but not before delivering another blast of snow Thursday night to YVR.

Officials there are still dealing with cancellations, delays and congestion, while Toronto’s Pearson International Airport is also bracing for an incoming storm.

Thursday 7:24 p.m.: The TTC is taking 41 stops out of service as of 5 a.m. tomorrow morning until further notice as a winter storm bears down on Ontario. More to come.

Thursday 7 p.m.: A monstrous once-in-a-decade winter storm is battering a huge swath of the central U.S. with snow and frigid temperatures, making a mess of highways and cancelling thousands of flights as the holiday travel season peaks.

Blinding snow squalls and dangerous cold have gripped the region as an estimated 112.7 million people are set to travel at least 50 miles through Jan. 2, according to AAA. The storm and deep freeze has even triggered warnings from the White House.

“This is not like a snow day, you know, when you’re a kid. This is serious stuff,” U.S. President Joe Biden said in a Thursday briefing, calling it “dangerous” and threatening. “If you all have travel plans, leave now. Not a joke.”

Thursday 6:13 p.m.: Massive waves are in the forecast for all five of the Great Lakes, with Lake Ontario likely to see waves as high as six metres (roughly 20 feet), according to U.S. Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory.

Experts think Lake Superior will boast the highest waves.

“All the lakes’ waves are big, but #LakeSuperior takes the cake, w/ wave forecasts along the southern shore peaking around 26-27 ft. the morning of 12/24,” read a tweet from the agency, which is run by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

Thursday 4:10 p.m.: The TTC says it’s prepared for the coming winter storm.

“Lots of staff, vehicles, anti-icers on standby with contingency plans for the SRT and proactive closure of 41 stops,” wrote the transit agency on Twitter.

You can track changes to TTC routes and see important storm updates here.

Thursday 4 p.m.: In a tweet, Mayor John Tory said warming centres will open Thursday and Friday night, at the Scarborough Civic Centre, Metro Hall and the Mitchell Field Community Centre. Access to the warming centres will available on a walk-in basis.

Earlier in the day, Toronto city councillors Gord Perks, Alejandra Bravo and Ausma Malik emailed a statement to the Star saying they had asked the city to open warming centres on Thursday ahead of the storm.

“With cold weather and freezing rain arriving today, we have a duty in our city to protect one another,” the councillors wrote.

Thursday 3:40 p.m.: As a winter storm approaches Toronto, you’ve probably noticed meteorologists using a flurry of terminology to best describe the weather.

Environment and Climate Change Canada issued a weather warning on Thursday ahead of a winter storm Friday. Meteorologists say Toronto could see what they call a “weather bomb” storm accompanied by wind gusts up to 100 kilometres per hour, blowing snow and freezing rain. But that does that mean?

Here’s a handy explainer for terms like weatherbomb, thundersnow, and flash freezing.

School cancellations for Friday, Dec. 23:

Conseil scolaire catholique MonAvenir

Conseil Scolaire Viamonde

Dufferin-Peel Catholic District School Board

Durham District School Board

Durham Catholic District School Board

Halton District School Board

Halton Catholic District School Board

Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board

Hamilton-Wentworth Catholic District School Board

Peel District School Board

Simcoe County District School Board

Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board

Toronto District School Board

Toronto Catholic School Board

York Region District School Board

York Catholic District School Board

Thursday 3 p.m.: The Toronto District School Board (TDSB) along with the Toronto Catholic School Board (TCDSB), will close all schools and administrative buildings on Friday, the school boards announced in a statement on Thursday.

Teachers will prepare and post learning materials online and students will be able to access them through logging in on their virtual classrooms through Google classroom or Brightspace. All child care centres operated by the TDSB and TCDSB and after school programs will also be closed.

“We recognize that these decisions have a significant impact on thousands of families across Toronto and are not taken lightly, however given the current weather forecast, we felt it was prudent to make this decision now to provide families and staff with as much notice as possible,” the statement read.

According to a release on Thursday by the TDSB, the cancellations also include all in-person continuing education classes and evening courses, International Languages Elementary and African Heritage, Learn4Life Community Programs and Adult ESL classes.

Thursday 3 p.m.: In light of Environment and Climate Change Canada’s prediction Toronto will see up to 20 millimetres of rain Thursday night, the Toronto and Region Conservation Authority issued a water safety message.

According to the conservation authority, the rainfall and snowmelt could result in high water levels along waterways throughout Toronto. In a marine weather report, Environment and Climate Change Canada said on Lake Ontario, waves could build as high as six metres on Friday afternoon.

Thursday 1:30 p.m.: In a notice to parents sent Thursday afternoon, the York Region District School Board is closing schools on Friday due to expected severe winter weather.

“Please know that this decision was made with student and staff safety as our top priority,” the YRDSB said in the email to parents.

Families are asked to make alternate arrangements for children on Friday, and asynchronous learning would be available for students who normally attend in person.

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