GTA digs itself out from yet another snowstorm

Aaron Harris/Torstar News Service


Munroe Ferreia tries to free his car from a monstrous snowbank yesterday near Strachan Avenue and Adelaide Street. The city was digging out from a two-day storm that dropped 15 to 40 centimetres on the GTA.

« My sense is that, in many ways, people are seeing this as our badge of weather courage. They want to say we got through it ourselves without calling in the army.»

Tired of shovelling all that snow, piling it up, driving around it, trudging through it, avoiding it?

But if you think you’ve had a tough time of it, dealing with the 15 to 40 centimetres of snow dumped on the GTA over the weekend, spare a thought for Ottawa, which received 52 centimetres, or Quebec, where winds gusting to 133 km/h forced even the police to abandon their vehicles.

And thousands of homes in Eastern Canada remain without light or heat today as hydro workers struggle to repair the ravages of the storm that swept up from the Ohio Valley on Friday.

The picture’s a little brighter in southern Ontario, where most of the GTA has shovelled itself out from under the weekend blanket, and where things are slowly getting back to normal at Pearson airport and the region’s highways.

And even though we didn’t set any snowfall records, Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips suggests we coped magnificently.

"My sense is that, in many ways, people are seeing this as our badge of weather courage," Phillips said. "They want to say we got through it ourselves without calling in the army."

The same weather system went on to create even more havoc in Eastern Canada after it finished pummelling southern Ontario.

While there were no echoes of former Toronto mayor Mel Lastman and calls for the Canadian Army to help out, as infamously happened in 1999, Toronto did roll out its own army of 1,600 workers, 600 street plows, 300 sidewalk plows and 200 salt trucks.

By early yesterday, Toronto’s main roads had received four passes from the snow plows, and smaller side streets — many still blocked by wind-whipped snowdrifts — are currently being cleared.

And while local police and the OPP reported nearly 1,500 weather-related accidents on snow-clogged roads, there were no reports of serious injuries or death.

OPP Const. Dave Woodford, who has spent 25 years patrolling Ontario highways, said he’s never seen anything like it.

"It was so bad out there I had to pull off the road at one point, and I was travelling at 20 km/h," the veteran highway patrol cop said. "I drive for a living. I’m on the road 12 hours or more a day every day, and that’s the worst I’ve seen the roads in my policing career — we just couldn’t keep up."

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