The storm is late, but damaging winds are still coming to the GTA: Environment Canada

  • thepeels
  • February 24, 2019
  • Comments Off on The storm is late, but damaging winds are still coming to the GTA: Environment Canada

Environment Canada continues to warn Toronto residents that a “major” windstorm on its way to the city could bring very strong gusts and blowing snow on Sunday.

Wind from the storm could be strong enough to blow shingles off roofs, uproot trees and cause power outages, the national weather agency said.

“We are still expecting damaging winds this afternoon and even into this evening,” Gerald Cheng, a meteorologist for Environment Canada said on Sunday.

“It’s just a matter of time before the winds get here. Already, it’s pretty gusty outside and it’s just going to keep increasing.”

A wind warning and blowing snow advisory for Toronto and surrounding regions remained in effect on Sunday afternoon.

“We are still expecting these impacts from this storm. The forecast is still valid at this point,” he added.

Some of those effects are already being experienced. 

As many as 5,000 people lost power in a small pocket in the Jane and Finch area shortly after 4 p.m., according to Toronto Hydro. The utility said that crews are on site and they expect to restore electricity to those customers around 7:30 p.m.

Wind could toss loose objects

Eventually, gusts of 100 to 110 km/h are expected, with even stronger winds possible in areas near the shore of Lake Ontario.

“Loose objects may be tossed by the wind and cause injury or damage,” the federal weather agency said in the warning.

Environment Canada said the “damaging” winds are coming in the wake of an arctic cold front that is expected to pass over the GTA. 

Extremely strong winds downed trees and hydro wires throughout the Niagara area on Sunday. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

Winds are expected to continue through the evening and diminish overnight.

Motorists are being told to adjust plans accordingly if road conditions change due to the high winds.

The Niagara region, Prince Edward County and areas close to the northern shores of the Great Lakes are expected to be hardest hit by high winds.

Hydro One says about 27,000 people across Ontario are currently without power, with the most widespread outages concentrated around the Niagara and Hamilton areas. 

Firefighters believe wind contributed to the partial collapse of a brick wall in Welland. (Andrew Collins/CBC)

Poor visibility, blowing snow

Cheng said Environment Canada regularly reviews its forecasts and would certainly do so if the windstorm were to bypass Toronto.

“Rest assured, after every event, we do verification and we try to see if we did a good job. And if not, we always do case studies to improve our performance the next time.”

He said the winds are currently within wind warning criteria. “For us to issue a wind warning, we issue them when we foresee gusts of 90 km/hr or higher. Even 80 km/hr is enough to cause damage,” he said.

Poor visibility due to blowing snow, meanwhile, is expected on Sunday afternoon into evening.

The forecast calls for flurries and strong westerly winds, with gusts of 70 to 100 km/h. 

Travel could be hazardous

Because of the possible whiteout conditions, travel could be hazardous and visibility reduced to near zero suddenly.

Travellers are urged to check with airlines for the status of their flights before heading to either Toronto’s Pearson International Airport or Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Both airports said early Sunday that weather conditions could affect operations.

The TTC, meanwhile, said trains will run at slower speeds in open areas of the subway.

Conditions are expected to improve early Monday.