Police dealt with dozens of collisions Monday as motorists grappled with blowing and drifting snow and slick roads that kept first responders busy.
As the region continued to shiver in temperatures of -21 C and below, the edge of a massive storm that blanketed much of the U.S. Midwest and southern Ontario crept into Eastern Ontario overnight Sunday night and dumped as much as five centimetres of snow through the day.
Traffic slowed to a crawl during the morning and afternoon commutes around the Ottawa area and through much of the day.
On Monday evening, Environment Canada issued an extreme cold weather alert for much of Eastern Ontario surrounding the city, warning that windchill values would be in the -35 range. Flurries were forecast through Thursday, with temperatures remaining in the minus double-digits except for Wednesday, which was expected to reach a balmy -7.
The storm delayed many flights at Ottawa International Airport and flights in and out of Toronto were cancelled or backed up.
Winds gusting up to 30 km/h through much of the day made visibility difficult on roadways around Ottawa.
Between 5 a.m. and 4 p.m., Ottawa police dealt with more than 100 collisions, so many in fact that police shut down collision reporting centres and told motorists to call regular patrol officers to deal with reportable crashes.
In a single-vehicle collision on Albion Road near High Road just after 5 a.m., the driver of a delivery van was taken to hospital with severe leg injuries. Extrication equipment was required to free the driver, whose legs were trapped.
Ottawa paramedics also responded to the single-vehicle crash near Scott Street and Carruthers Avenue, near Tunney’s Pasture.
Several hours earlier, a car carrying four people struck and knocked over a hydro pole. Paramedics said the male driver was in his 20s and was treated for head and chest injuries and taken to hospital.
Road closures were in effect as Hydro Ottawa crews replaced the fallen pole.
“We were just overwhelmed,” a police spokesman said later in the evening. “I can’t give you an exact number (of collisions), but there have been many.”
Police reopened the collision centres around 7 p.m.
The Ontario Provincial Police responded to five morning crashes on highways around the area, including a rollover near the eastbound Woodroffe Avenue on ramp to Highway 417.
The patient was taken to hospital and was conscious when paramedics arrived on scene.
Ottawa schools remained open and school buses within the city were operating, but Ottawa Student Transportation Authority warned of significant delays on many routes while buses navigate the winter weather.
The Ottawa Airport Authority warned travellers to check flights departing from the Ottawa International Airport.
Source: Ottawa Citizen