Toronto, Canada, North America grapple with storm damage

Toronto, Canada, North America grapple with storm damage

Friday’s winter storm brought freezing rain, heavy snow and ice pellets across Toronto and parts of southern Ontario. Follow the star’s weather file for updates on weather, traffic, possible delays at Pearson, and more.

10:03 am: According to WestJet, 60 flights scheduled to depart from Toronto Pearson Airport on Saturday have been canceled, as well as a flight scheduled for Sunday that was canceled ahead of Christmas Day.

WestJet canceled all flights at airports in Ontario, Quebec and British Columbia on Friday, including affected airports in Toronto, Ottawa, London, Ontario, Waterloo, Ontario and Montreal. The airline had already canceled 300 flights on Friday.

WestJet Chief Operations Officer Diederik Pen says the company apologizes for the disruption to holiday travel plans and its teams are trying to restore operations on the ground and in the air.

According to Pen, the extreme and prolonged weather conditions in the BC, southern Ontario and Quebec regions are unlike anything the company has ever experienced.

9:49 am: Friday’s worst winter storm appears to be over after the “once in a decade” weather event abated with freezing rain, heavy snowfall and gusty winds over the weekend.

Environment Canada has lifted the winter storm warning for Toronto and the GTA.

“There is no question that the storm and the amount of snow was much lighter than expected and that’s good news for everyone,” Mayor John Tory said during a news conference on Saturday morning.

The remaining weather advisories are now in effect calling for strong winds of up to 80mph, snow flurries and scattered snowdrifts to continue into the evening.

9:46 am: The ferocious winter storm continued to engulf much of the United States Saturday, bringing blinding snowstorms, freezing rain, flooding and life-threatening cold to most of the country. A major electric grid operator, which supplies 65 million people in the eastern US, says power plants are struggling to function in the cold weather and has asked residents to refrain from using unnecessary electricity.

Pennsylvania-based company PJM Interconnection issued the emergency call to protect the whole system, urging residents of 13 states to set thermostats lower than usual, delay use of large appliances like stoves and dishwashers, and turn off unnecessary lights. Commercial and industrial consumers of electricity have also been asked to reduce their electricity supply.

PJM officials said they want people to be prepared for the possibility of power outages. “It will be short lived, we will do everything we can to prevent it, but it is a real possibility,” said Mike Bryson, senior vice president of operations at PJM.

The PJM territory includes all or portions of Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia and Washington, DC

The storm was nearly unprecedented in magnitude, stretching from the Great Lakes near Canada to the Rio Grande along the border with Mexico. Freezing rain blanketed much of the Pacific Northwest with a sheet of ice, while people in the Northeast faced the threat of coastal and inland flooding.

As millions of Americans traveled ahead of Christmas, more than 5,700 flights within, to or from the United States were canceled as of Friday, according to tracking site FlightAware. Several highways were closed and accidents claimed at least six lives, officials said.

4:06 am: Weather warnings remained in place across the country early Saturday as major storms continue to dump snow and freezing rain on Quebec, Ontario and BC, and batter the Atlantic provinces with heavy rain and strong winds.

A Hydro-Quebec spokesman said about 1,000 workers were repairing power lines early Saturday morning to restore power to about 366,588 customers.

Across the border in Ontario, more than 77,000 customers of Hydro One (which powers much of the province outside of Toronto) were without power.

More than 41,000 New Brunswick Power customers were still in the dark early Saturday, along with 27,411 in Nova Scotia.

Environment Canada forecast rain and strong gusts through Christmas Eve in the Maritimes, with the storm moving to Newfoundland and Labrador through Saturday night.

The fierce winter storms also slowed vacation travel plans as flights were canceled at major airports in Ontario, Quebec and BC and police closed sections of provincial highways because of dangerous driving conditions.


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