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Massive pileup closes Hwy 401 as Southern Ontario braces for nasty weekend weather

Weekend travellers in Southern Ontario are being warned of dangerous winter driving conditions as an Arctic low-pressure weather system whips snow and high winds through the region.

Already on Friday six people have been injured after a series of crashes on the eastbound Highway 401 near Brighton, Ont., including at least one multivehicle pileup.

Provincial police said they shut down the highway's eastbound lanes at County Road 30 after the collisions just before noon Friday, one of which involved at least 15 vehicles. Police say a total of 25 vehicles and 12 transport trucks were involved in the collisions.

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Snow began falling in the area on Friday morning, causing poor visibility and slippery driving conditions.

A combination of snow and very strong, gusting winds is expected to create hazardous driving conditions outside major cities, Environment Canada said in a special weather statement on Friday.

The snowfall forecast for much of the region amounts to about 5 to 10 centimetres on Friday night and less than that on Saturday. But the southwesterly winds, already gusting above 60 kilometres an hour at Pearson International Airport in the afternoon, are expected to reach a steady 50 km/h on Friday evening with gusts up to 70.

Police services around the region are warning drivers to anticipate episodes of reduced visibility by lowering their speed and keeping their distance from other vehicles on the road.

As forecasts are updated, the amount of snow expected on the weekend is rising in some areas. In anticipation, the city of Kitchener has declared an official snow event, which bans parking on city streets.

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