Snowstorm with thunder and lightning rolls across parts of Ontario

TORONTO — Thundersnow?

A major winter storm packing thunder and lightning rumbled across parts of Ontario Friday night as heavy snow reduced visibility and clogged streets as people looked skyward to watch the show.

There were reports of the CN Tower being struck by lightning. Toronto police said there were numerous vehicles getting stuck and urged motorists to stay off the roads.

Toronto Hydro reported scattered power outages and that crews were responding to multiple safety emergencies such as downed power lines.

Earlier Friday, WestJet proactively cancelled all scheduled flights to and from Toronto Pearson International Airport ahead of the storm.

Flights in and out of Toronto are expected to resume Saturday morning, the airline said in a service update.

"At this time, scheduled operations to and from Toronto are expected to resume ... at a reduced capacity, contingent on weather conditions improving as forecasted," WestJet said in a release.

WestJet said it would continue to monitor storm conditions and make operational changes as required.

It advised guests travelling to or from Toronto to check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport.

Air Canada also warned customers to check their flight status before leaving for airports in Toronto, Ottawa and Montreal.

Environment Canada strongly discouraged non-essential travel due to dangerous conditions.

The weather agency said up to 30 centimetres of snow was expected in the Toronto area with gusty winds.

Severe weather "is expected to bring heavy snow and strong winds to a large swath of southern Ontario," Environment Canada said in its winter storm warning.

"Heavy snow in combination with strong easterly winds will create significantly reduced visibility and hazardous travel conditions."

The weather agency said surfaces like highways, roads, walkways and parking lots could become difficult to navigate because of accumulating snow.

It also said some could experience power outages due to a combination of heavy wet snow and wind, and advised residents to monitor for updates from Environment Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 3, 2023.

The Canadian Press