Ice pellets and freezing rain hammer southern Ontario for second day in a row

TORONTO — More than 35,000 people were without power in southern and central Ontario Sunday as the region was hit by another round 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.

Provincial power utility Hydro One says it has extra crews on standby to address outages as the massive, slow-moving storm system hammered an area that stretches from Windsor, Ont., into Quebec and from Lake Ontario to North Bay.

Ontario Provincial Police have said there were more than 550 crashes on highways surrounding Toronto on Saturday — none of them fatal — and that there had been dozens more early Sunday.

The mixture of freezing rain and ice pellets meant for particularly bad road conditions, said Chris Scott, chief meteorologist with The Weather Network.

“These ice pellets have acted like very dense snow on the road,” he said. “That’s created treacherous driving conditions across much of southern Ontario, but especially in the GTA.”

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.

Scott said areas near Lake Erie were hit with the most freezing rain and ice pellets, 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 solid rain later Sunday as temperatures rise, starting in the west and moving east.

In the meantime, Toronto’s Pearson Airport advised travellers to check the status of their flights before leaving. More than 250 flights were cancelled Saturday and another several hundred early Sunday afternoon.

Motorists who cannot avoid going out today are urged to be extra cautious due to what are likely to be treacherous road conditions.

The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority is also warning that some creeks and rivers could flood by late tonight due to the heavy rain.

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