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Severe weather causes chaos at Pearson

Jan. 7, 2014, Toronto - The relentless extreme winter weather continues to wreak havoc in Central Canada, causing major travel backlogs including at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, which is halting all flight landings until at least 10 a.m. ET today.


January 7, 2014
By CBC News

Thousands of would-be passengers queued inside Toronto's main air travel
hub, awaiting word of their flight status or simply to retrieve their
luggage.

"I stood in a three-hour line as well as on hold for three hours
until Air Canada hung up on me," one passenger told CBC News. "At the
end of the line, they tell you they will not rebook your flight, so I'm a
little bit frustrated right now."

 

Along with ground flights that aren't permitted to land, a backlog of
planes lined the tarmac, waiting for a gate to become available to
offload passengers.

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CBC reporter Linda Ward said the airport hasn't confirmed how many planes are stuck on the tarmac.

 

"Travellers getting off those planes are very tired, very frustrated
and very angry," she said. "One family I spoke to waited on the tarmac
for four hours. They said this was the worst flight they've ever been
on."

 

Police have moved extra officers into the arrivals and departures areas for crowd control, the CBC's Tony Smyth reported.

 

Airlines are urging passengers to check their flight status before heading to the airport because of cancellations or delays.

 

The ground stop was initially supposed to be lifted at 9 a.m., but
arrival restrictions were extended. Airport officials said just before 9
a.m. that departing flights were slowly starting to move.


On Monday, dozens of passengers were stranded on the tarmac for hours due to a backlog of planes waiting for a gate.

 

The ground stop in Toronto was also creating huge delays at Halifax's Stanfield International Airport on Tuesday morning.

 

Overnight, the City of Toronto experienced temperatures feeling as
cold as  –35 C to –40 C with the wind chill. Environment Canada warned
residents that exposed skin can freeze in less than five minutes in such
conditions.

 

The miserable weather is across much of Canada, with all of southern
Ontario and most of the north facing dangerous wind chills ranging from
–30 C to –45 C. Some areas of the south also face blizzard and snow
squall warnings.

 

Forecasters say the strong winds will carry the squalls farther
inland and snowfall amounts up to 15 centimetres are possible while
visibilities could drop to nil in blizzard conditions.

 

"I think where we're feeling the worst of it, and you have to
remember cold is a relative term … I think into parts of Ontario,
certainly southern Ontario, this morning is where we'll see folks being
more miserable than other parts of the country that generally deal with
some colder temperatures," said CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland.

 

"So we are looking at bitterly cold temperatures in Ontario, in Quebec."

 

In Quebec, wind, rain and blizzard warnings are in effect for most of the province. About 4,100 Hydro-Québec customers remain without power, down from a high of 30,000 on Monday afternoon.

 

"We're seeing an abnormal start to the winter," Scotland said.

 

"We really are just over two weeks into the winter. We saw a very
cold wrap to fall heading into winter so it feels like winter has been
around a lot longer than it has been."

 

Scotland said most of the country is forecast to return to seasonal temperatures by the weekend.

"So there is light at the end of the tunnel," he said.

 

"Unfortunately, another bitterly cold one to get through today for
much of the country from the Prairies, Ontario, Quebec, temperatures
dropping in Atlantic Canada."