TORONTO – The full force of winter is expected to be felt across the GTA Friday.
The snow started falling late Thursday afternoon and the GTA will probably be digging out 15 to 25 cm by Friday afternoon.
Early Friday morning, both the Toronto District School Board and Toronto Catholic District School Board tweeted that schools would remain open but bus services were cancelled.
Durham Region and York Region schools are also open but buses are cancelled.
Students in Peel Region have the day off: All Peel School Board schools are closed and activities cancelled Friday.
Pearson airport was also reporting hundreds of flight cancellations and travellers were advised to check with their airline before heading to the airport Friday.
“We’re talking about blowing and drifting snow, so there will clearly be some driving issues there,” Environment Canada climatologist David Phillips said Thursday.
The snow is forecasted to be heaviest along Hwy. 401 in the morning, moving from London into the GTA, with blowing snow resulting in low visibility.
Phillips said strong winds are also expected, from 40 to 60 km/h.
The weather prompted the City of Toronto to issue an extreme cold alert, asking homeless shelters to accommodate those seeking shelter.
Mayor Rob Ford encouraged residents to keep their driveways and sidewalks clear as snow gathers.
“We have to clean the sidewalks obviously and clean your walkways and your driveways,” Ford said.
Asked if he’s ready to call in the army if needed, like former mayor Mel Lastman did during one storm, Ford laughed.
“No, no, no,” he said.
The Toronto Transit Commission also warned riders to prepare for longer travel times due to the weather.
Ahead of the snow Thursday, the city was confident it was ready to dig out from the storm.
“This will be our first big snowfall,” public works chairman Denzil Minnan-Wong said. “Our contractors will do their best.”