Blizzard shuts down Grey-Bruce 0
The OPP has closed all provincial highways and county roads in Grey-Bruce. A large emergency sign stood at Highway 6 & 10 and 6th St. E. Tuesday afternoon as two transport trucks waited for the road to reopen. DENIS LANGLOIS/QMI AGENCY
High winds and blowing and drifting snow have essentially closed Grey and Bruce counties on Tuesday, with the blizzard-like conditions expected to last well into Wednesday.
As of about 3 p.m. all county roads and provincial highways in Grey and Bruce counties remained closed. All municipal roads in Bruce County were also closed, as were many in Grey County.
The OPP and Owen Sound police were telling motorists to stay off the roads due to poor visibility, blowing and drifting snow and stranded vehicles.
The Bruce County highways department was reporting on its website that as of 12:40 p.m. the Wiarton patrol had ceased, while the Walkerton and Paisley patrols had ceased operations earlier.
“People are realizing the severity of the storm and there are becoming less of them as there’s little-to-no traffic on the roads,” Bruce County engineer Brian Knox said.
Based on forecasts he’s seen, it won’t be before Thursday that all county plows will be able to get out to clean up after the storm, he said.
In Grey County, all county roads and provincial highways were closed, while individual municipalities were responsible for assessing and closing their roads, it said in a news release from the Grey County OPP. The Municipality of Grey Highlands asked the OPP to notify the public that all roads in Grey Highlands were closed until further notice.
Grey-Bruce was under a rare blizzard warning and windchill warning. As of about 4 p.m. the temperature in Owen Sound was -13 degrees Celsius, but feeling like -24 C with the wind chill.
Winds in the Owen Sound area were blowing 40 km/h, gusting to 60 km/h and were expected to continue overnight.
Geoff Coulson, a warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said Tuesday the blizzard and wind chill warnings for the Grey-Bruce area were expected to remain in effect into Wednesday.
The agency’s weather office expected the storm conditions to “gradually improve” Wednesday afternoon, he said, although flurries and frigid temperatures could continue for much of Thursday.
Coulson said given the length of the storm, which began Monday, and the amount of lake-effect snowfall, this blizzard is one of the most intense and severe the area has seen in several years.
It rivals only the storm of December 2010, he said, which dumped lake-effect snow on the area over several days.
For the second day in a row, students across Grey-Bruce had the day off school. All Bluewater District School Board and Bruce-Grey Catholic District School Board schools were closed.
Many businesses and public facilities across the region were also not open or were closing early because of the weather. Services such as garbage pickup were also being cancelled or postponed.
At Grey Bruce Health Services, anyone with non-urgent appointments at any of its six hospitals were being asked to stay home. Those with chemotherapy and dialysis appointments were being contacted to discuss their appointments. The hospitals were staffed and the emergency rooms were open.
Owen Sound city hall was closed, but the building was open until 4:30 p.m. to serve as a warming station. The Harry Lumley Bayshore Community Centre and Julie McArthur Regional Recreation Centre were also open as warming stations until 5 p.m.
City streets were still being plowed, but motorists were being encouraged to remain off the roads. Arterial and collector roadways were in fair to poor condition, while side streets were considered to be in poor condition. City transit had been suspended for the day.
City police were also advising drivers to avoid any non-essential driving on city roads. 8th St. E. between 9th Ave. E. and 28th Ave. E. was closed due to blowing snow causing whiteout conditions.
Access to the Owen Sound hospital could be gained via 10th St. E. and 16th Ave. E., police said in a news release.
Owen Sound Sun Times delivery was being delayed because of the closed roads.
With files from Denis Langlois and Scott Dunn