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A man walks along Shuter Street during a storm in Toronto on Monday, October 29, 2012. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)
A man walks along Shuter Street during a storm in Toronto on Monday, October 29, 2012. (Matthew Sherwood for The Globe and Mail)

TORONTO

In Toronto, tamer storm system will linger, then dissipate: meteorologist Add to ...

Monday’s night’s “superstorm” will continue well into Tuesday and Wednesday, albeit with much reduced ferocity.

“It’s very much a slow-moving and long-lived system,” said Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist at Environment Canada.

High wind speeds are still expected Tuesday morning. The winds will gust at 60 to 90 kilometres an hour, but will die down to about 50 km/h by noon. By Tuesday night, the winds will be at a tame 20 km/h. Temperatures will hover around 10 to 12 degrees on Tuesday and Wednesday. Periods of rain, amounting to five to 10 millimetres, are expected Tuesday.

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The rain is expected to end Tuesday evening, but more spotty showers will return on Wednesday, which will make for a very wet and cool Halloween. Trick-or-treaters will experience chilly temperatures of about 7 degrees, but it will not feel as cool as Monday night.

In some areas outside Toronto where the temperature is just a few degrees above the freezing point, the precipitation could turn into wet snow, but a significant accumulation is not expected. Mr. Coulson added that the biggest concern with this storm is the wind speed. It was expected to reach 100 km/h Monday night, whipping up waves three metres high on Lake Ontario.

Sandy is now being categorized as a post-tropical cyclone rather than a hurricane by the U.S. National Hurricane Center. Mr. Coulson explained that this essentially means the core of the storm is changing from a warm system to a cold pressure system.

Strong winds have already caused one death in Toronto and thousands of power outages in the city.

Death:

A woman in her 50s has died after flying debris hit her on the head near Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue, according to Toronto EMS.

Toronto police Staff Sergeant Bruce Morrison said the woman was walking in a parking lot when part of a sign from a nearby business became loose because of the strong wind and fell. The woman was pronounced dead at the scene around 7:30 p.m.

 

Fire:

After midnight in downtown Toronto, fire crews responded to a blaze in a commercial building on Queen Street West, west of Peter Street. Michael Posner, a reporter for The Globe and Mail who lives about a block away from the scene, said the fire was preceded by a “huge explosion.” More details were not immediately available.

Transportation:

A TTC spokesperson said power outages affecting traffic lights may delay streetcars and buses.

GO Transit is warning passengers that train tracks between Union and Oriole stations may be submerged if there is a flood. Officials will make a decision overnight on whether Tuesday morning’s commute will be altered. Travellers should check the GO Transit website for service updates.

Although the city’s subways, streetcars and commuter trains are still running, numerous flights have been cancelled.

Porter Airlines cancelled all flights out of Billy Bishop Airport from 3 p.m. Monday to noon Tuesday.

Toronto Pearson International Airport has issued a travel advisory to passengers, warning that “a significant number of cancellations can be expected for flights within North America.”

Air Canada cancelled flights scheduled for Tuesday to and from LaGuardia, Newark, John F. Kennedy, Providence, R.I., Washington Reagan and Washington Dulles airports. Flights to and from Philadelphia, Boston, Baltimore, Harrisburg, Pa., and Hartford, Conn., are also cancelled. All other international flights and domestic Canadian flights are continuing to operate.

Air Canada is waiving change fees for flights to and from northeast U.S. airports until Wednesday. The airline is encouraging customers to rebook their flights online to avoid long wait times at call centres.

WestJet has also advised that flights to and from New York’s LaGuardia may be delayed or cancelled.

Passengers are strongly advised to check their flight status before travelling to the airport.

Power outages:

Strong winds are being blamed for 6,500 power outages throughout Toronto as of 10:30 p.m. Monday.

Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Jennifer Link said the outages are spread out across the city, and that crews have to be deployed to individual homes to assess the damage and carry out repairs.

“Because of the large number of calls, several people could be without power overnight,” Ms. Link said.

There has been at least one report of a downed tree in the Upper Beaches area on Lyall Avenue.

In the rest of Ontario, Hydro One spokeswoman Nancy Shaddick said there were 35,000 customers without power as a result of the storm. There are 12,000 outages in southwestern Ontario alone. Strathroy, just west of London, may have been hit the hardest with 4,000 homes having lost power.

Ms. Shaddick said there are some crews working on the most severe problems overnight, but Hydro One’s crew will be out in full force after 6:30 a.m.

Toronto Hydro and Hydro One officials could not predict if power would be restored before people return home from work on Tuesday.

Schools:

Officials at both Toronto’s Catholic and public school boards were monitoring weather forecasts Monday to determine whether flooding might require them to close schools or cancel buses. Head caretakers at Toronto’s Catholic school board spent the day inspecting schools and preparing them for flood conditions by ensuring, for example, that drains and catch basins were clear of leaves. Board officials are encouraging parents to check the school board’s website to see if classes are cancelled.

A spokesperson for Toronto’s public board said that if schools were to close Tuesday it would be the first time a hurricane has forced the board, which came into being in 1998, to take such measures.

Follow on Twitter: @lizchurchto

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