Polar vortex leads to shattered records, grounded flights and solid sweaters

(Updated) The frigid weather has led to at least one shattered weather record. Hamilton hit a low of minus 24 this morning, breaking the 1968 record of minus 20.

It’s part of a deep freeze enveloping much of North America, called a polar vortex. The system sucks arctic winds and blasts them southward into normally temperate regions.

Environment Canada says most of the province is under wind chill warnings. Extreme caution is advised for people heading outdoors as exposed skin can freeze in less than five minutes.

The cold is creating problems at dozens of airports, including Pearson, which has issued a “ground stop.” That means that flights cannot land there, and also potentially long delays. CHCH News found hundreds of frustrated travellers stranded in the terminal.

And there is blowing snow and very poor driving conditions in Halton region. Police there have been dealing with a number of collisions around Milton and Halton Hills. They actually asked drivers to stay off the roads overnight. Lots of vehicles were stuck in drifting snow on Ninth line.

In London, both Western and Fanshawe have cancelled classes today because of the cold, and Waterloo schools are closed. Hamilton, Halton, Peel and Niagara schools are open, but bus service in Peel and Niagara have been cancelled because of poor road conditions.

While only a couple of centimetres of additional snow are expected to fall today in Fort Erie, winds of 55 kilometres an hour will gust as high as 85 kilometres an hour, causing dangerous white outs. A snow squall watch remains in effect for Niagara.

Just over the border, there’s a blizzard warning. With winds up to 70 kilometres an hour blowing across Lake Erie, almost a metre of snow could be on the ground by tonight in Buffalo.

Conditions are so bad that New York governor Andrew Cuomo has declared a state of emergency for 14 counties in upstate New York. He’s also ordered the closure of a 100 kilometre stretch of the New York State Thruway from Buffalo all the way to the Pennsylvania border.

To illustrate how cold it is, Nicola Jones soaked a t-shirt and a Christmas sweater. The t-shirt froze solid in five minutes; the sweater took 11.


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scott says:

“To All The Folks Blaming The Airlines For Not flying in a snow storm…”
It’s a snowstorm/icestorm/windstorm/any storm. The airlines have not ordered up bad weather just to p!!s you off. There is no one to blame other than Mother Nature.
I’ve worked at the airport, during delays, snow, etc. 99.9% of the passengers are very understanding, and no matter how frustrated with the situation, they behave. Unfortunately, the news media LOVES to find the loudest, most whinny, complaining passenger, and stick a camera in their face, giving the squeaky wheel a bullhorn to announce how miserable they are.
Fortunately, those individuals are NOT the norm. Even thought the media seeks them out, and makes it sound like all passengers are complaining about the sh!!!y conditions they have to endure…the actual, factual reality, most people are intelligent to know that it’s safer to not be flying during a storm. Only idiots complain about flight problems during a massive, multi-province, multi-state weather event. I just wish the news media stopped putting cameras in front of these idiots and letting them speak…

Bonnie MacNeil says:

It never ceases to amaze me that Canadian weather forecasters believe that Buffalo’s weather ends at the Peace bridge. Fort Erie does NOT get the same weather as Niagara Falls! Your statement that we were only expected to get a couple of cm of snow while Buffalo was going to get a blizzard was crazy!

tim bennett niagara falls ont. says:

loving the winter weather this is what canadas about.cold snowy days.live it and love it. Tim Bennett Niagara falls.