TORONTO — More than 40,000 people were without power and one busy Toronto airport had to shut down on Sunday, as southern and central Ontario were battered by another day of freezing rain and ice pellets.
Environment Canada issued weather warnings for the entirety of the region for the second day in a row, advising that strong winds could exacerbate already dangerous conditions.
Toronto's downtown Billy Bishop airport cancelled all departing flights and received only one arrival all day on Sunday, while more than 600 flights were cancelled at the larger Pearson International Airport. Dozens of flights were also cancelled or delayed at Ottawa International Airport.
Meantime, provincial power utility Hydro One said Sunday afternoon that extra crews were working to address more than 42,000 power outages, with fallen trees and broken poles causing most of the issues. Toronto Hydro said approximately 10,800 of its customers were without power across the city Sunday evening.
The mixture of freezing rain and ice pellets also made for nasty road conditions, particularly in the Greater Toronto Area.
"These ice pellets have acted like very dense snow on the road," said Chris Scott, chief meteorologist with The Weather Network. "That's created treacherous driving conditions across much of southern Ontario, but especially in the GTA."
Provincial police said there were roughly 750 crashes on highways surrounding Toronto on Saturday, and there had been nearly 700 more by early Sunday afternoon. None of the crashes were fatal.
Wind warnings were also issued, with gusts up to 90 kilometres per hour forecast for the Hamilton area — strong enough to cause property damage and further power outages.
Multiple universities had to cancel their weekend exams because of the dangerous conditions, which caused problems for students such as Jamie Nicholson.
The food science student at Guelph University added that the situation caused headaches because the exams would take place next weekend, when some students like himself already had plans.
"Some people have it a lot worse though, because they booked flights out of the country or back home," he said.
Nicholson said the situation was also tough because he was told that special accommodations like extra time wouldn't be provided for the re-scheduled exams.
"That was an issue for me, because I get special accommodations," he said, adding that in his case, his professor was able to accommodate him, but not all students he knows were able to find a solution.
Other local events, such as outdoor viewing parties for the Toronto Raptors and Maple Leafs, also had to be cancelled on Saturday because of the freezing rain.
Scott said areas near Lake Erie were hit with the most precipitation, while the region around St. Thomas, Ont., had the most power outages.
"It's rare to get such a winter storm this late in the season," said Scott, noting that southern Ontario hasn't seen such an intense ice storm in April in over a decade.
Environment Canada said the freezing rain and ice pellets would change to rain later Sunday as temperatures rose, starting in the western part of the region and moving east.
The changing weather prompted the city of Mississauga and the Toronto and Area Conservation Authority to issue flood warnings around lakes and rivers.
Provincial police in southwestern Ontario also urged drivers to take caution and stay home if possible on Sunday, as heavy rain could make the roads unsafe.
The Canadian Press
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