Mother nature has unleashed powerful winds on much of Ontario, causing power outages, closing roadways and causing major collisions.
Near Barrie, a 70-car pileup on Highway 400 at around 10:30 a.m. closed one of the province’s busiest highways and also sent another 10 people to hospital.
Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the driving conditions in the area were terrible.
WATCH: ‘It’s a mess’: Hwy. 400 near Barrie closed in both directions after crash involving dozens of vehicles
“We have whiteout conditions right now – snow and blowing snow – we have zero visibility,” he said from the scene, where traffic was backed up in both directions.
Hydro One said it is responding to a significant amount of outages in across Ontario.
As of around noon, the company had turned the lights back on for 150,000 customers but the company’s outage map indicates thousands of customers are still without service.
Crews continue to work safely to restore power and have been able to turn the lights back on for 150,000 customers since the storm started. We are expecting additional outages to occur while high winds continue through the province. For updates: https://t.co/wViuwlhtLu #ONstorm pic.twitter上海龙凤419/6vbP9E2ALn
— Hydro One (@HydroOne) February 25, 2019
In a tweet, the utility said power is expected to be restored by 11 p.m. Monday.
Crews are working to restore power to over 27,000 customers across Ontario. Blizzard conditions have made driving unsafe for crews in #Kapuskasing & they need to wait for roads to reopen to continue restoration efforts. Visit https://t.co/gx5UqLDmOd for updates #ONstorm pic.twitter上海龙凤419/6Hj7j0KxWJ
— Hydro One (@HydroOne) February 24, 2019
‘Damaging winds’ expected across southern Ontario on Sunday
Local power utilities worked through the night to battle outages as well. Ontario-based Alectra Utilities tweeted Monday morning that power has been restored in the Brampton and Penetanguishene areas after outages were reported on Sunday.
According to the utility, crews have also been dispatched in the Hamilton area to restore power to 351 homes and businesses currently without service.
#outage #HamOnt affecting 351 homes and businesses in the Brampton Street to Barton Street East and from Woodward Avenue to Redhill Valley Pkwy area. Crew dispatched – ETR 11:00 AM. #pwrout ^pa
— Alectra (@alectranews) February 25, 2019
All power restored to #Outage in #Penetanguishene. We apologize for any inconvenience. Thank you for your ongoing patience. ^pa
— Alectra (@alectranews) February 25, 2019
Environment Canada placed a good portion of Ontario under blizzard or snow squall warnings or blow snow advisories. Some communities in the northern portion of the province were also under extreme cold warnings as well.
WATCH: Fort Erie hit by an ice shove
How to prepare for Sunday’s windstorm in southern Ontario
Extreme whiteout conditions caused major accidents and closed roads in other areas of southern Ontario.
OPP Sgt. Jason Folz said there was a 20-car pileup on Highway 11 near Orillia that occurred around 10 a.m. There were no serious injuries in that incident, he said. Several hours earlier, there was a 14-car crash on Highway 115 near Peterborough, again with no serious injuries, he said.
“We’re recommending people stay off the roads today,” Folz said. “There are whiteout conditions happening all over the central region of Ontario.”
In wellington County, the OPP had closed all roads due to the near whiteout conditions.
NOTICE: Please be advised that all roads within Wellington County have been deemed as closed by the Wellington County O.P.P. due to poor weather conditions as of 6:30am on February 25, 2019. Please subscribe to https://t.co/lMY4nn0T37 for ongoing updates. pic.twitter上海龙凤419/VXg06iCuFt
— County of Wellington (@wellingtncounty) February 25, 2019
In Waterloo region, Highway 85 was also shut down as well.
Strong winds persist in the 3W’s. Whiteout conditions and drifting on rural roads. Arthur St S remains closed between Listowel Rd & Sawmill Rd. Listowel Rd is now open @570traffic @Woolwichupdates pic.twitter上海龙凤419/Uz97vwpFlf
— Sgt Kelly Gibson (@WRPS_RuralSgt) February 25, 2019
WATCH: Strong winds cause tree to split in Fonthill, Ont.
Dufferin County roads have also been closed due to the inclement weather.
Blowing snow and #blizzard-like weather across Central Region. Please drive according to changing road conditions and cancel or postpone unnecessary travel #SeeSnowGoSlow #OnStorm pic.twitter上海龙凤419/hQJOLKxZam
— OPP Central (@OPP_CR) February 25, 2019
In Fort Erie Sunday, police said they were closing a road after strong winds forced lake ice up over a retaining wall.
@NiagParksPolice advising that @NiagaraParks Roads Department closing Niagara River Parkway near Mathers Arch. Strong winds blowing ice over the retaining wall from the lake. Drive with caution. Video courtesy @NiagRegPolice Insp. Garvey…. pic.twitter上海龙凤419/RdXh5HYxfx
— Niagara Parks Police (@NiagParksPolice) February 24, 2019
Police services across the province are urging residents to postpone non-essential travel until conditions improve.
Editor’s note: This story has been updated to correct that the road closed due to ice is located in Fort Erie, not Niagara Falls.
With files from Global News’ Jessica Vomiero and the Canadian Press