Snowstorm wallops Southern Ontario

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Major snowfall in Ontario caused school closures, flight cancellations and treacherous road conditions in much of the province.

The Greater Toronto Area was expected to get as much as 30 cm of snow by Friday afternoon, Environment Canada said, the region’s biggest dump of snow in more than four years. The city hasn’t seen more than 15 cm since Dec. 19, 2008.

Ontario Provincial Police reported more than 600 fender benders on southern Ontario roadways since the storm began Thursday, prompting a warning for motorists to stay off the roads.

"Unless it’s absolutely necessary, don’t drive," Sgt. Kristine Rae said.

Poor road conditions are believed to be a factor in a three-vehicle crash in Pickering on Friday that killed a 49-year-old man, as well as a crash in Whitby that killed an 18-year-old man Thursday night, Durham Regional Police said.

In Barrie, a three-car crash sent two people to hospital Thursday night. The two victims had to be extricated from their vehicles and one was transported to a Toronto trauma centre.

"The weather was pretty brutal. It’s pretty wide open there, so whatever was coming across the highway, it was a whiteout," Sgt. Peter Leon said.

And on Highway 401 near Prescott, in eastern Ontario, a 57-year-old Ottawa man was killed Friday morning when his car went off the road.

School buses in Toronto, Ottawa and Lambton County were cancelled. However, most schools remained open.

Many post-secondary schools shuttered for the day, including the University of Toronto’s Scarborough and Mississauga campuses, Ryerson University, York, Waterloo and McMaster.

A Lady Gaga concert, however, was slated to go on as planned. Fans braved the storm to camp outside Air Canada Centre in downtown Toronto.

Airports in Toronto and Ottawa reported hundreds of flight delays and cancellations.

If you’re flying, you can check your flight status here.

Environment Canada said the heavy snowfall was expected to taper off into Friday night as the storm heads to the East Coast.

Atlantic Canada is bracing for a powerful nor’easter, with some places expected to get 90 km/h winds over the weekend.

"The worst of the weather will be throughout the day Saturday for the Maritimes and Sunday for Newfoundland and Labrador," said Gina Ressler, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

The northeastern U.S. was walloped with a massive blizzard Friday, with Boston bearing the brunt of it. The city shut down schools and all non-essential services, and officials delayed an NHL game.

Governors in Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut declared states of emergency and issued driving bans Friday afternoon.

— With files from John Miner, Laura Cudworth, Don Wilcox, Cheryl Browne, Chris Doucette, Michael Aubry and Reuters