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A cyclist braves the snow-swept streets.Kevin Van Paassen

Southern Ontarians can expect a few more centimetres of snowfall amid continued inconvenience from widespread closures and travel delays caused by a hugely anticipated storm.

The snowstorm - which was more bark than bite for many in the region - hit hardest in Hamilton, which has a continued blizzard warning, high winds and 20 cm of snow.

In Toronto, where the storm was most intense in the early hours, eight to 10 cm of snow fell by late morning, with the possibility of another five to 10 cm by the time the system peters out Wednesday evening.

More than 350 flights have been cancelled at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Porter Airlines scrapped most of its morning flights, but said service resumed at the downtown island airport shortly after 11 a.m. ET. The airline also cancelled its Halifax flights.

Many students across the Greater Toronto Area got a snow day as school boards and universities cancelled classes.

For the afternoon commute, GO Transit, the regional rail network, is running a modified schedule on its three busiest routes - the Lakeshore West, Lakeshore East and Georgetown lines. Trains will stop at all stations, with no express service. The agency offered the same service in the morning.

The Toronto Transit Commission said subway service was unaffected by the weather, though buses and streetcars are experiencing delays.

Up to 600 plows and 200 salt trucks are clearing the snow from Toronto streets, with a priority on highways and arterial roads. Peter Noehammer, director of transportation services for the City of Toronto, estimated the cost of dealing with the snowstorm at about $5-million.

Fewer drivers braved the roads, said Sergeant Tim Burrows of Toronto Police's traffic services, noting that many companies made arrangements for their employees to work from home.

"There aren't a lot of problems that I'm seeing that we would normally anticipate," he said. "Normally, I would expect to see a lot of crash reports."

However, he said journeys are taking longer because streets are snow-covered and slippery. Sgt. Burrows said his own commute from Georgetown, which usually takes 40 minutes, instead lasted an hour and 10 minutes.

On Toronto's Wellington Street East, which was unplowed as of 9 a.m., drivers gave each other a wide berth, forming just two lanes of traffic instead of the usual three.

On the city's ice-clogged harbour, the ferry service linking the residential community to the mainland was running on schedule by mid-morning, after a few delays for the first boats of the day. The ferry travels along a channel in the ice that is kept open each night by the city's Fire Department using its emergency fire boat.

The same storm pummelled the United States, shutting down airports and schools and knocking out electricity, before roaring northward, where it is expected to cut a long, wide swath from Southwestern Ontario to Halifax.

Windsor declared a snow emergency, opening up all city-owned parking lots and encouraging residents to put their cars there for free to allow plows to pass unimpeded along city streets. Hamilton cancelled Wednesday garbage collection, rescheduled public meetings and cancelled all city recreation centre programs.

When it's all said and done, the blizzard is expected to drop 20 to 30 centimetres of snow along with ice pellets and will, in some areas, be the strongest storm of the season. Winds of up to 50 km/h will stir up the powder, causing whiteouts and cutting visibility on the roads.

The system tacked east toward Ottawa, where heavy, blowing snow is bringing traffic to a crawl. A few accidents have already been reported on area roads.

At the Ottawa airport, many flights have been cancelled. Some flights are still taking off in spite of the conditions, including an Air Canada flight to Toronto's Pearson airport Wednesday morning.

As a result of the cancellations and the bad weather, there are far fewer travelers at the Ottawa airport than normal.

Montreal is predicted to get between 10 and 15 cm of snow, while from 15 cm to 25 cm will fall in Nova Scotia and southern New Brunswick.

Up to 45 centimetres of snow is expected to fall in Nova Scotia and much of Atlantic Canada was under weather warnings.

Also Wednesday, which is Groundhog Day, the Nova Scotia celebrity rodent Shubenacadie Sam emerged to see no shadow, traditionally forecasting an early spring. But those balmier climes seemed far off in the face of an advancing storm.

Schools in much of Nova Scotia and parts of New Brunswick were closed Wednesday. Police warned drivers to be careful and urged children not to play in snowdrifts near the road, worried that snowplow drivers might not see them. Skating was cancelled Wednesday morning on Halifax's popular outdoor long-track oval and the majority of morning flights at the city's airport were cancelled or delayed.

Environment Canada was warning of 25 to 45 centimetres of snow in all parts of Nova Scotia, in some areas changing to freezing rain tonight and then back to snow. The southern part of New Brunswick, closest to the Bay of Fundy, is expected to get up to 30 centimetres of snow. Prince Edward Island's dump is projected at 10 to 25 centimetres. And the Burin and Avalon Peninsulas of southeastern Newfoundland are expected to get 20 to 30 centimetres of snow by Thursday afternoon.

South of the border, meanwhile, the storm cut a swath from Texas to the Northeast and provided some clue as to what Canadians can expect.

Some 6,000 flights, representing nearly a fifth of all air travel, were grounded. Icy sidewalks and roads were deserted in Dallas, just days ahead of the Super Bowl. Normally sunny Albuquerque, New Mexico, was hit with a blizzard. Oklahoma City ground to a standstill in the face of whiteout conditions. Lawmakers in various states wrapped up their business early and adjourned.

In Texas, thousands of people were left without power as the temperatures dropped.

Chicago, which was set to receive 60 centimetres of snow, called its first school snow day in more than a decade, while downtown workers were set to stay in the city centre rather than head home overnight.

The storm began in the Rockies, before swooping down from the mountains onto the Texas plains Monday and beginning its northward march.

"You've got to be impressed by the geography of this thing," said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada. "Five provinces and 29 or 30 states - it is a monster storm."

Mr. Phillips, who called the storm "a slammer," said high winds will make travelling especially treacherous, causing whiteout conditions.

"This is sort of our Groundhog Day. We've seen our shadow and … the second half of winter will be tougher than the first half," Mr. Phillips said.

With reports from Adrian Morrow, Bill Curry, Oliver Moore, Martin Mittelstaedt and Jacquie McNish

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