Toronto's first major snowstorm of 2012
Heavy snowfall in parts of Ontario and southern Quebec has prompted flight cancellations and caused havoc on the roads.
Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for southern and eastern Ontario as well as southern Quebec Thursday morning with 20-45 cm of snow expected.
The epicentre of the storm is near New Jersey and heading northeast, forecast to reach Nova Scotia on Friday, Environment Canada said.
Parts of Nova Scotia are under a storm watch, with a rainfall advisory for the southern part of the province. Warnings have also been issued for New Brunswick and western Prince Edward Island.
Air Canada and WestJet have warned flights to and from Ottawa, Quebec City, Montreal, as well as the northeastern U.S., may be cancelled or delayed Thursday because of snow and strong winds.
More than 400 flights were cancelled or delayed as of Thursday morning at Toronto's Pearson International Airport. Ten centimetres of snow had fallen there as of 6:30 a.m., Environment Canada said.
Ontario Provincial Police said Thursday morning more than 270 minor crashes had been reported since Boxing Day in the London, Ont.-area alone. In Middlesex County, a driver struck the back of a police cruiser that was parked on the shoulder of Hwy. 401. The officer was helping a motorist who had hit the ditch and wasn't injured, police said.
"There's a never-ending supply of people who don't adapt their driving to the weather conditions," Sgt. David Rektor said.
The Canadian Automobile Association reported service wait times of 45-60 minutes. The association fielded 1,900 calls as of Thursday morning for south-central Ontario.
"We do ask our members to be patient," CAA spokeswoman Silvana Aceto said. "We're responding to high-priority calls first, so that's people on the road as opposed to people in their homes who may have a vehicle with a dead battery."
In the northeastern U.S., the storm led to the cancellation of about 200 flights Thursday. More than 1,500 flights there were cancelled Wednesday. The National Weather Service expects 30-45 cm of snow to dump on northern New England. Police in the U.S. said at least five people were killed in road crashes due to bad weather.
— With files from Scott Taylor, Terry Davidson and Reuters