Skip to main content

The Canadian Press

A blast of winter weather that included damaging winds and blowing snow caused chaos on highways in southern Ontario and left thousands of people without power, authorities said Monday.

A major crash on Highway 400 near Barrie, Ont., left several people with minor injuries. Local fire officials said the collision involved more than 70 vehicles and required a stretch of the highway to be shut down in both directions for about seven hours.

Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the driving conditions in the area were terrible.

Story continues below advertisement

“We have whiteout conditions right now — snow and blowing snow — we have zero visibility,” he said from the scene, where traffic was backed up in both directions.

Videos of the collision posted by Schmidt online show dozens of vehicles, including several transport trucks and one fuel tanker, smashed together, with numerous cars also in the ditch.

“This is not a good place to be out,” Schmidt said. “If you don’t need to be driving, don’t be.”

Schmidt said the fire department had to use the Jaws of Life to pry some of the vehicles apart.

“The collisions that were involved were fender benders piling in to one another to the other to the other,” Schmidt said.

Samantha Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Barrie fire department, said the collision occurred around 10 a.m. on the southbound lanes of the highway. A 500-litre diesel spill caused by the crash was under control, she said.

Ontario Provincial Police say a stretch of Highway 400 in both directions has been closed as they respond to the scene of a massive pileup south of Barrie, Ont. on February 25.


An accident involving

20-30 vehicles closed

Highway 11 southbound

just north of Washago.

Orillia

11

400

Barrie

ONTARIO

An accident

involving 50-70

vehicles closed

Highway 400 in

both directions

between

Mapleview Drive

and Highway 89.

404

400

Toronto

0

20

KM

TRISH McALASTER / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: OPP, CP24, TILEZEN;

OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU

An accident involving

20-30 vehicles closed

Highway 11 southbound

just north of Washago.

Orillia

11

400

Barrie

An accident involving

50-70 vehicles closed

Highway 400 in both

directions between

Mapleview Drive and

Highway 89.

404

400

ONTARIO

0

20

Toronto

KM

TRISH McALASTER / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: OPP, CP24, TILEZEN;

OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU

An accident involving

20-30 vehicles closed

Highway 11 southbound

just north of Washago.

Orillia

11

400

Barrie

ONTARIO

An accident involving

50-70 vehicles closed

Highway 400 in both

directions between

Mapleview Drive and

Highway 89.

404

400

Toronto

0

20

KM

TRISH McALASTER / THE GLOBE AND MAIL

SOURCE: OPP, CP24, TILEZEN; OPENSTREETMAP CONTRIBUTORS; HIU

Ryan Harris said he was driving south on the highway when he came upon stopped traffic that stretched out in front of him for about a kilometre.

Story continues below advertisement

“Sometimes I can see the emergency vehicles, but there are moments where the wind is so strong that it’s just a complete whiteout and the truck starts shaking,” Harris said in a phone interview from his vehicle. “It’s really bad.”

Authorities were dealing with other multi-vehicle pileups in other parts of the province on Monday.

Provincial police in eastern Ontario said an 18-vehicle collision in Champlain Township sent seven people to hospital, some with serious injuries.

OPP Sgt. Jason Folz said a 20-car pileup on Highway 11 near Orillia, Ont., occurred around 10 a.m. There were no serious injuries in that incident, he said. Several hours earlier, there was a 14-car crash on Highway 115 near Peterborough, Ont., again with no serious injuries, he said.

“We’re recommending people stay off the roads today,” Folz said. “There are whiteout conditions happening all over the central region of Ontario.”

High winds that swept across parts of the province late Sunday into Monday also left thousands without power. Hydro One said more than 175,000 people lost electricity in the nearly 24 hours since the storm hit.

Story continues below advertisement

Spokeswoman Alicia Sayers said that while the utility has restored power to the majority of customers, there are still hundreds of outages impacting more than 9,000 people across the province.

Environment Canada said the wind storm was starting to die down from peaks registered late Sunday and into Monday morning, but gusty winds and blowing snow continued to cause treacherous driving conditions in parts of the province.

Spokesman Gerald Cheng said the winds were still significant even if they no longer met the threshold for wind warnings in most cases.

“It is starting to abate, but we’re not quite out of the woods,” Cheng said. “There’s still blowing snow issues across a large swath of the province.”

Environment Canada’s current forecasts call for wind levels significantly lower than peak gusts of 128 kilometres an hour that were recorded on Sunday in Port Colborne, Ont., Cheng said.

Video footage shot at the nearby Niagara River showed large chunks of ice spilling over a retaining wall and onto the shoreline, prompting Niagara Parks Police to close some roadways.

Story continues below advertisement

Cheng said areas around Lake Huron and Georgian Bay are most likely to be affected by snowfall as the storm winds down on Monday, adding the wind warnings that have been cancelled across most of the province are still in effect in that region.

Once the wind has died down completely, Cheng said deep cold is expected to set in across another large swath of the province.

Extreme cold alerts are expected for much of northern Ontario in the coming days, Cheng said.

Further south, cities like Toronto can expect temperatures to dip below -15 degrees Celsius with wind chill values making conditions feel colder, he said.

Report an error
Due to technical reasons, we have temporarily removed commenting from our articles. We hope to have this fixed soon. Thank you for your patience. If you are looking to give feedback on our new site, please send it along to feedback@globeandmail.com. If you want to write a letter to the editor, please forward to letters@globeandmail.com.

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff. Non-subscribers can read and sort comments but will not be able to engage with them in any way. Click here to subscribe.

If you would like to write a letter to the editor, please forward it to letters@globeandmail.com. Readers can also interact with The Globe on Facebook and Twitter .

Welcome to The Globe and Mail’s comment community. This is a space where subscribers can engage with each other and Globe staff.

We aim to create a safe and valuable space for discussion and debate. That means:

  • Treat others as you wish to be treated
  • Criticize ideas, not people
  • Stay on topic
  • Avoid the use of toxic and offensive language
  • Flag bad behaviour

Comments that violate our community guidelines will be removed.

Read our community guidelines here

Discussion loading ...

Cannabis pro newsletter