Vehicles are piled up after a crash on Highway 400 south of Barrie, Ont. on Monday, Feb.25, 2019 in a photo from the Twitter user @OPP_HSD. Authorities say a major highway in southern Ontario has been closed in both directions to deal with a collision involving dozens of vehicles. (The Canadian Press/Twitter)

High winds, blowing snow cause highway chaos, power outages in parts of Ontario

More than 175,000 people lost electricity in the nearly 24 hours since the storm hit

A blast of winter weather that included damaging winds and blowing snow caused chaos on highways in southern Ontario and left thousands of people without power, authorities said Monday.

A major crash on Highway 400 near Barrie, Ont., left several people with minor injuries. Local fire officials said the collision involved more than 70 vehicles and required a stretch of the highway to be shut down in both directions.

READ MORE: Two boys saved after falling through ice in Coquitlam

Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the driving conditions in the area were terrible.

“We have whiteout conditions right now — snow and blowing snow — we have zero visibility,” he said from the scene, where traffic was backed up in both directions.

Videos of the collision posted by Schmidt online show dozens of vehicles, including several transport trucks and one fuel tanker, smashed together, with numerous cars also in the ditch.

“This is not a good place to be out,” Schmidt said. “If you don’t need to be driving, don’t be.”

Schmidt said the fire department had to use the Jaws of Life to pry some of the vehicles apart.

“The collisions that were involved were fender benders piling in to one another to the other to the other,” Schmidt said.

Samantha Hoffman, a spokeswoman for the Barrie fire department, said the collision occurred around 10 a.m. on the southbound lanes of the highway. A 500-litre diesel spill caused by the crash was under control, she said.

Ryan Harris said he was driving south on the highway when he came upon stopped traffic that stretched out in front of him for about a kilometre.

“Sometimes I can see the emergency vehicles, but there are moments where the wind is so strong that it’s just a complete whiteout and the truck starts shaking,” Harris said in a phone interview from his vehicle. “It’s really bad.”

Authorities were dealing with other multi-vehicle pileups in other parts of the province on Monday.

Provincial police in eastern Ontario said an 18-vehicle collision in Champlain Township sent seven people to hospital, some with serious injuries.

OPP Sgt. Jason Folz said a 20-car pileup on Highway 11 near Orillia, Ont., occurred around 10 a.m. There were no serious injuries in that incident, he said. Several hours earlier, there was a 14-car crash on Highway 115 near Peterborough, Ont., again with no serious injuries, he said.

“We’re recommending people stay off the roads today,” Folz said. “There are whiteout conditions happening all over the central region of Ontario.”

High winds that swept across parts of the province late Sunday into Monday also left thousands without power. Hydro One said more than 175,000 people lost electricity in the nearly 24 hours since the storm hit.

Spokeswoman Alicia Sayers said that while the utility has restored power to the majority of customers, there are still hundreds of outages impacting more than 9,000 people across the province.

Liam Casey and Michelle McQuigge , The Canadian Press

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Just Posted

Northwest mobile unit to help those at heart of mental health, addiction crisis

Province, Northern Health unveils new unit in Terrace to bridge gaps in services

Sk’aadgaa Naay slips in Fraser Institute elementary school rankings

The school stayed at a rating of 5, but slipped to 694th rank in 2017/18

B.C. First Nations’ intake of essential nutrients to drop by 31 per cent: study

Professors project the nutrient decrease by 2050 if climate change mitigation continues as is

B.C. minister says rural internet is ‘railroad of the 21st century’

Jinny Sims talks details about the $50-million provincial and possible $750-million federal funds

Arts funding for Haida Gwaii and Rupert societies

North Coast MLA Jennifer Rice announced $320,643 in funding from the BC Arts Council Grant

Sparks fly as SUV speeds down wrong side of Highway 1 trying to flee RCMP

Captured on video, the vehicle headed westbound against oncoming traffic before crashing

Calgary captain has 3 points as Flames torch Canucks 3-1

Giordano leads way as Alberta side cracks 100-point plateau

1,300 cruise ship passengers rescued by helicopter amid storm off Norway’s coast

Rescue teams with helicopters and boats were sent to evacuate the cruise ship under extremely difficult circumstances

B.C. university to offer first graduate program on mindfulness in Canada

University of the Fraser Valley says the mostly-online program focuses on self-care and well being

Province announces $18.6 million for B.C. Search and Rescue

The funding, spread over three years, to pay for operations, equipment, and training

Late-season wave of the flu makes its round in B.C.

BC Centre for Disease Control reported 50 per cent jump in flu cases in first weeks of March

Tofino’s housing crisis causing some to seek shelter at the local hospital

Tofino’s housing crisis is pushing the town’s ‘hidden homeless’ population into the forefront.

Sentencing judge in Broncos crash calls for carnage on highways to end

Judge Inez Cardinal sentenced Jaskirat Singh Sidhu to eight years

2 fires in Victoria caused by cigarettes prompts warning from deputy fire chief

Two separate fires caused by cigarette butts were avoidable

Most Read