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

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Peachland residents march for better forest management

The Peachland march was one of many like it across B.C.

Interior Health reports three additional COVID-19 cases in region

The number of cases in the region since the beginning of the pandemic are now at 492

Interior Health continues to tackle COVID-19

IH president Susan Brown says don’t become complacent about pandemic

Okanagan Rail Trail northern section closure begins next week

This work is a part of the RDNO’s long-term planning and maintenance to ensure the trail remains safe

3 new deaths due to COVID-19 in B.C., 139 new cases

B.C. confirms 40 ‘historic cases,’ as well

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg dies at 87

The court’s second female justice, died Friday at her home in Washington

‘This is a very difficult sentencing’; Judge delays Okanagan manslaughter trial to next week

The courts heard Friday that Bourque “did not intend to cause harm” but that her actions were “reckless”

Emaciated grizzly found dead on central B.C. coast as low salmon count sparks concern

Grizzly was found on Gwa’sala-‘Nakwaxda’xw territory in Smith Inlet, 60K north of Port Hardy

Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

VIDEO: B.C. to launch mouth-rinse COVID-19 test for kids

Test involves swishing and gargling saline in mouth and no deep-nasal swab

Young Canadians have curtailed vaping during pandemic, survey finds

The survey funded by Heart & Stroke also found the decrease in vaping frequency is most notable in British Columbia and Ontario

B.C. teachers file Labour Relations Board application over COVID-19 classroom concerns

The application comes as B.C.’s second week of the new school year comes to a close

CHARTS: Beyond Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 cases in B.C. haven’t increased much recently

COVID-19 case counts outside of Metro Vancouver have been level since July

Most Read