Earlier this week, Southern Ontario was hit with a massive snowstorm. While it’s not unusual to see snow in a Canadian winter, it was a record snowfall and we haven’t seen this much snow in years, so it caught people off guard. In Ottawa, 45 cm of snow was recorded, while Toronto Pearson International Airport saw 32 cm of snow.
This isn’t the first time Southern Ontario has been walloped by a blizzard of this magnitude. On December 11, 1944, Toronto saw a record 48.3 cm of snow in a single day, causing huge delays across the city. Nine people also lost their lives. February 25, 1965, also saw 39.9 cm of snowfall on the city, while the January 2, 1999 storm brought 38 cm and prompted then-Toronto mayor Mel Lastman to call in the army to help with snow clearing.
Despite warnings that people should just stay home because the conditions made travelling too risky, tons of people still shoveled their vehicles out of the snow and attempted to go somewhere. The delays were massive, vehicles of all shapes and sized got seriously stuck, and many major highways and roads had to be closed. The storm wreaked havoc around the region and things seemed to grind to a halt with some people reporting they were stuck on the 401 for hours on end. Even the next day, abandoned cars and busses that got stuck were still causing delays as the cleanup from the storm kicked into high gear.
As everyone is probably still digging their way out, we’ve compiled some of the best moments that resulted from this massive blizzard.
Riders Help Push a Bus
Is there anything more Canadian than helping push somebody’s car out of the snow? Well, yes, apparently. When a Toronto city bus got stuck on a steep hill, the passengers decided to get out and push, helping everybody get to where they needed to go.
Plenty of people replied to the tweet saying that they wouldn’t help push in this situation, that is unless they got a free ride on the bus. That’s not the spirit!
The snow doesn’t discriminate, and it isn’t about to avoid a major highway just because you use it to get to work. Highway 401 is the busiest highway in Canada, and it came to a total standstill due to the extreme snowfall this week.
Transport trucks and other vehicles were no match for the weather, and quickly became overwhelmed by poor visibility and low traction. Some drivers were stuck for upwards of eight hours, turning their morning commute into a full day of labour. Others simply gave up and abandoned their vehicles.
No Big Deal
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This storm was a lot more than expected for most citizens of Southern Ontario, but apparently, for some, it was just a walk in the park. A man was spotted digging a vehicle out of the heavy snow wearing just a short-sleeve shirt and shorts, despite the sub-zero temperatures. While the person taking the video was dumbfounded by the scene, it’s clear that it was just another day in Canada for the driver.
Shoveling snow can be backbreaking work, but apparently, using it to cushion a fall can be as well, as one Twitter user discovered very quickly.
In the city, piles of snow rarely have the consistency of fresh mountain powder, but that doesn’t stop people from perceiving it as such. The hard-packed snow dumped on the side of the road by the plows appears to be a pillowy soft dream, until reality brings a harsh awakening.
The majesty of the jump is equalled only by the horror of the landing. As the snow does no good to help reduce the velocity, the jumper’s body bounces as it hits the pile, causing us to grit our teeth. Luckily, the fire station is nearby if there was any serious injury.
Fire Truck Stuck
What starts with “F” and ends in “uck”? No, it’s not the first thing you said when you looked out the window on Monday morning, but instead, it’s a fire truck, stuck in deep snow.
Many people took one look out the window the morning of the 17th, proclaimed “snow day!” and promptly remained on their couch for the next 12 hours. When it comes to saving lives, however, there are no days off, and for City of Toronto firefighters, there was a lot more to fight than just flames.
According to the poster of the video, the snowdrifts on side streets easily topped 1.5 metres, which would be a huge obstacle for even the largest vehicles. Even tow trucks were getting stuck, so there’s little hope for the rest of us!
Dude, Where’s My Car?
The snowplows are doing their best to help get the roads free for vehicles to use, but for some, the effort is counterproductive.
There isn’t much point in making the roads clear when the snow that was covering it ends up on your vehicle, which is what more than a few drivers discovered when they went out to start their cars on Monday morning.
The combination of heavy snowfall and snowplows resulted in snow berms that were higher than the roofs of some vehicles, making them completely invisible in the blizzard.
Just a Taste
If the first few metres of driving are already hell, then maybe it’s a poor idea to continue. This time-lapse video shows a driver attempting to leave their home, only to be met with extreme difficulty within just a few seconds. Try as they might, the piles of snow exceed the ground clearance of the SUV, signalling the belated deployment of the snow shovel.
Once the snowplow actually arrives, the driver has already surrendered themselves to the elements, hopefully heading back inside to make a phone call to their boss, and gathering the kids to walk to the nearest hill with a toboggan.
With traffic not moving and the sidewalks not plowed yet, some people turned the empty, snow-covered roads into cross-country ski trails. We’re sort of surprised no one caught videos of people dogsledding on the roads, but cross-country skiing seemed like a great alternative way to commute to work while also getting a great workout.
The streets of Toronto aren’t occupied solely by vehicles with rubber tires, there are also streetcars that ride on tracks. You’d think that tracks might be a good alternative to tires when there’s no traction, but it turns out that’s not the case. One clip shared on Twitter shows a huge lineup of streetcars that got stuck, creating a gridlock situation. Another clip also shows a streetcar operator reaching for the ultimate tool, a tiny broom, after the rail junction for the streetcar became obstructed by the snow.
To onlookers, the small tool doesn’t seem like enough to clear the junction to allow the streetcar to make the turn, especially considering the nearly endless deluge of powder. This video may coin a new term “bringing a broom to a snowstorm,” akin to bringing a knife to a gunfight, and digging a ditch with a spoon.