Rural roads experience whiteouts during major winter storm

March 6, 2020   ·   0 Comments

By Brian Lockhart

Hopefully it was the last major dumping of snow we’ll have this winter, but no promises on that.

The thick blanket of snow that landed on Dufferin County last Thursday and Friday also saw the Greater Toronto Area and much of southern Ontario experience slightly colder temperatures and several centimetres of the white stuff.

While it was a light, fluffy type of snow that made shoveling the driveway a fairly easy task for most people, accumulation on streets and roads caused a slow down in traffic with drivers letting up on the gas so they could travel safely.

Strong winds also resulted in white-out conditions, especially on some rural routes that are adjacent to open fields. 

When the snow started falling on Thursday, school bus routes were cancelled for safety reasons although schools remained open.

With increased snowfall overnight, the Upper Grand District School Board made the decision to shut down all schools.

Ten major highways in Dufferin County were closed due to white-outs and dangerous ice conditions and the OPP urged people not to drive unless absolutely necessary. 

Environment Canada issued a warning to motorists to expect travel to be “nearly impossible at times” in Dufferin. 

Road closure signs with flashing lights were placed on several roadways warning motorists to stay away. While conditions may not look bad from that vantage point, the warnings indicated that severe white-out conditions and icy roads were ahead, making for a very dangerous drive. 

Several motorists who didn’t heed the warning found themselves in the ditch and had to be towed.

Going around a ‘road closed’ sign is an offence and you can be charged for disobeying the order.

In town, the weather did not have the same impact as more rural areas with most roads cleared and drivable. 

“Generally speaking, while the storm late last week brought a lot of snow accompanied by heavy winds, Orangeville was not impacted to the same extent as some of our neighbours,” said Doug Jones,  Orangeville’s General Manager of infrastructure Services. “Orangeville employs seasonal staff during the winter to clear sidewalks and to run the plows and loaders overnight and on weekends.  During a storm like the one that we had last week, our seasonal plow/loader operators primarily work to keep the main roads clear.  Our full time staff begins at 5 am to clear the remainder of the roads.  No Orangeville roads were closed as a result of the storm.”

Will it be the last of winter? On Wednesday, Environment Canada was predicting “periods of snow” Thursday night and Friday morning, while the Weather Network suggested accumulations of less than five centimetres before a return to mild temperatures Sunday.

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