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

‘Out of the Interior: Survival of the Small-town Cinema in British Columbia’ is coming to Gate House Theatre in Port McNeill

On Saturday, June 8 at 7:00 p.m., ‘Out of the Interior’ documentary will screen at Gate House Theatre.

North Island Rising: Political polarization

This fall there will be a minimum of four candidates wanting your vote here on the North Island.

Bradshaw’s Photo Highlight: The last walk together

“I would give almost anything to be able to have another walk together”

North Island College holding information session on new culinary diploma

Get a sneak peek at the new culinary kitchen at the Campbell River campus

Council approves replacement of overhead heaters at Fire Hall

Port Hardy council has agreed to spend $11,000 on the replacement of… Continue reading

REPLAY: The best videos from across B.C. this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week in the province

Canadian homebuyers escaping high housing costs by moving to secondary cities

In British Columbia, exurbs have grown in the Hope Valley and Kamloops

Feds lay out proposed new rules for voice, video recorders in locomotives

Transport Canada wants to limit use of recorders to if a crew’s actions led to a crash

Raptors beat Bucks 100-94 to advance to franchise’s first-ever NBA Finals

Leonard has 27 points, 17 boards to lead Toronto past Milwaukee

Third person charged in death of B.C. teen found in torched SUV

Inderdeep Kaur Deo facing charge of accessory after the fact to murder

Kamloops girl, 9, recovering from carbon monoxide poisoning now out of ICU

Her mother who was sleeping in the same tent with her did not survive

‘I think he’s still alive’: B.C. mom pleads for help finding son last seen a month ago

Family offering $5,000 reward for information leading to the safe return of Tim Delahaye

New poll suggests one-third don’t want politicians to wear religious symbols

Local politicians shouldn’t be allowed to wear hijabs, crucifixes or turbans on the job, survey suggests

Raptors fans far from home adjust plans to watch pivotal playoff game

Raptors currently lead the playoff series 3-2, and a win Saturday would vault them into NBA finals

Most Read