Frigid Weather Shuts Toronto Airport to Arrivals, Stalls Transit

Jan 07, 2014 9:14 am ET

Jan. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Frigid temperatures in Toronto shut down Canada’s largest airport to arrivals and disrupted public transit as a mass of cold air swept over North America, threatening to chill the U.S. Midwest to its coldest day in 20 years.

Toronto’s Pearson International Airport said on Twitter the cold was freezing equipment and endangering employees. A so- called ground stop was in effect until 10 a.m., the airport said. Departing planes are allowed to leave while the airport was still closed to arrivals, according to the Twitter feed.

Temperatures plunged across the U.S. Midwest and the Great Lakes with temperatures in Toronto sinking to minus 23 Celsius (minus 9 degrees Fahrenheit), and feeling like minus 38 Celsius with the wind chill, according to Environment Canada’s website.

Canada’s largest city is still cleaning up debris from an ice storm that cut power to thousands over Christmas and brought down as much as 20 percent of the city’s tree canopy.

Air Canada canceled at least 44 departing flights as of 8:45 a.m. local time and WestJet Airlines Ltd. had at least 16 departing flights canceled, according to the airport’s website. Many flights into and out of Montreal, Toronto, Ottawa and the U.S. Northeast were canceled or delayed, Air Canada said in a statement.

Toronto’s streetcars were delayed by freezing air lines in the cars and frozen switches in rail yards, said Brad Ross, a spokesman for the Toronto Transit Commission, on Twitter. Buses are running to make up for lost streetcar service, Ross said.

School buses were canceled while most schools remained open, the Toronto District School Board said on its website.

Temperatures below minus 10 Celsius are expected to continued through the day and into tomorrow, Environment Canada said.

--With assistance from Frederic Tomesco in Montreal. Editors: Jacqueline Thorpe, Paul Badertscher