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Residents urged to take it slow as first major snowfall blankets GTA

Residents are being urged to take it slow on Monday as the first major snowfall of the season continue to blanket the Greater Toronto Area.

"Don't expect to get anywhere fast," said Const. Alex Li, spokesperson for the Toronto Police Service.

"Plan ahead, drive according to the conditions, give yourself ample time when it comes to braking and stopping."

Environment Canada says between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow are expected to fall in the city on Monday by the time it tapers off later on Monday night. Residents who live closer to Lake Ontario may be experiencing even more in isolated pockets.

The snow, which started on Monday morning and continued throughout the day, is expected to be heavy at times on Monday night.

Talia Ricci/CBC
Talia Ricci/CBC

In Toronto, which remains under a winter weather travel advisory, police traffic services say they responded to between 18 to 20 minor crashes between 4 p.m. and 6 p.m. as drivers tried to cope with newly fallen snow. That's double the usual number of crashes at that time of day.

"We've been steady all day," Staff Sgt. Mike McCulloch, of police traffic services, said on Monday evening.

"It's been mostly fender benders. People have been sliding into other cars. It's our first major snowfall and people are still adjusting," he added.

"If people don't have to go somewhere, don't go."

Snow causing delays of up to 15 minutes for TTC buses

According to the Toronto Transit Commission, all bus routes in the city are experiencing delays of up to 15 minutes due to weather conditions.

The TTC's early subway closure on Line 1 between Wilson and St Clair West has been cancelled on Monday night due to the weather conditions. The TTC says trains will now run until the end of service.

Across the province, meanwhile, the Ontario Provincial Police reported that it responded to 408 crashes on Monday, including 116 in its central region and 115 in its highway safety division.

City summons winter operations equipment early

Vincent Sferrazza, director of operations and maintenance for Toronto's transportation services, said the city had to summon its winter operations equipment, like salt trucks and plows, early this year. He expects about 13 centimetres of snow will fall throughout the day.

Talia Ricci/CBC
Talia Ricci/CBC

"The is the first time we've seen 13 centimetres on a single day this early in the season," he said.

In 2007, about 15 centimetres fell over a two-day period between Nov. 7 and 8. Sferrazza said, despite the early snow, the city is ready.

"We are fully equipped to tackle today's snow event," he told CBC Toronto earlier on Monday.

Crews began brining major roads Sunday night. The Gardiner Expressway and some high-traffic roads like University Avenue and Yonge Street had been salted by about 12 noon Monday.

In all, the city is deploying some 600 pieces of equipment to help clear streets and sidewalks. Sferrazza said plows were expected to head out once about eight centimetres of snow has fallen.

"Our first priority is to hit all the major roads, and then we will tackle all the local roads as well," he added.

Talia Ricci/CBC
Talia Ricci/CBC

The snow will likely taper off by Tuesday but colder temperatures will settle in. Monday should see a high of –2 C, with the mercury plunging to –8 C overnight. It will feel more like –15 with the wind chill on Tuesday morning.

Even more snow was in the forecast for west of Toronto. Hamilton was expected to be the hardest hit, with snowfall between 25 and 30 centimetres. Niagara region, too, could see up to 25 centimetres.

Halton District School Board and the Halton Catholic District School Board cancelled transportation services for the day Monday morning, although schools were open.

Air travellers are being advised to check on the status of their flights before heading out to airports.