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Schools closed, roads slow as GTA walloped by winter storm

A sign stands outside Oshawa's General Motors car assembly plant in Oshawa, Canada. The Government of Canada's remaining 73.4 million shares in General Motors are now worth more than $3.4 billion in total, thanks to the combined effect of a solid stock price and a weakened Canadian dollar. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Michelle Siu

A man died shoveling, hundreds of flights were delayed, and schools closed their doors as heavy snowfall and strong winds blasted the GTA on Monday.

Peel paramedics confirmed that a man died while shoveling snow in Mississauga around noon.

Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for much of southern Ontario and the GTA on Sunday, advising everyone to avoid all non-essential travel during the morning commute.

The national forecaster lifted the warning for parts of southern Ontario — including Toronto, Halton, Peel, York, Durham, Hamilton, Orangeville, Niagara and Waterloo — just before 11 a.m. on Monday.

Midtown Toronto received 22 centimetres of snow, while Brampton and Mississauga received between 20-25 centimetres of snow.

Hamilton mountain received some of the heaviest accumulations with totals between 25-40 centimetres.

Hector Moreno, Manager of Road Operations for the City, called efforts to clear streets, “a race against time.”

The City had 200 salters and 600 road plows out in full force, but many side streets may not be touched until 6 a.m. Tuesday morning.

Universities, colleges, and school boards across the region cancelled classes and buses. Toronto Catholic and public schools were open, but buses were cancelled. Halton, Peel and Dufferin-Peel Catholic schools closed their schools for the day as well as many universities and colleges.

Toronto District School Board (TDSB) spokesperson Ryan Bird defended the move to cancel buses while schools remained open, saying the vast majority of TDSB students don’t ride the buses regularly.

“We are an urban board,” stressed Bird. “Ninety per cent of our students do not rely on school buses. (It’s a) very unique situation in Toronto, unlike other school boards in the GTA.

Visit our Storm Centre for all the latest updates on closures and cancellations.

680News air-borne traffic reporter Darryl Dahmer advised drivers to quadruple their usual travel time as blowing snow slows the commute.

At least one in 10 flights are not landing or taking off at Pearson airport as more than 180 flights have been cancelled.

 

 

Environment Canada is calling for wind gusts ranging from 50 to 70 kilometres an hour which can reduce visibility to 500 metres in some areas.

 

In addition to the snow, frigid temperatures have settled over the region. Toronto is under an extreme cold weather alert, with a forecast high of -11 C, feeling like -23 with the wind, according to 680News meteorologist Jill Taylor.

 The storm comes as fuzzy forecasters offer their predictions for the rest of winter this Groundhog Day.

Wiarton Willie called for an early spring when he emerged just after 8 a.m.

But Nova Scotia’s Shubenacadie Sam saw his shadow, which according to groundhog folklore means we can expect six more weeks of winter.

Last year, only Willie was correct when he spotted his shadow.

What’s it like where you are? Below are some photos, or click here for a mobile-friendly version.

With files from Jamie Pulfer, Melissa Duggan, Kevin Misener, and the Canadian Press

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