TWO YEARS AGO: Snowstorm for the ages hammered Mississauga
Published January 17, 2024 at 1:39 pm
The first major winter storm to hit Mississauga this year arrived last Friday and caused some traffic and air travel headaches here and there.
City of Mississauga snowplows quickly cleared the roads and sidewalks, people dug out — to the extent there was any real digging out to do — and life moved on.
Contrast that with the scene in Mississauga, and elsewhere in the GTA, two years ago today and the few days that followed when an “epic snowstorm,” a “storm for the ages” and an “historic winter storm” slammed into the city, crippling local and air transportation and trapping many people inside their homes.
The “storm for the ages” was made worse when a second snowstorm, major enough in its own right, struck the city and surrounding areas some 24 hours later — adding significantly to the 45 centimetres of snow that had fallen in some areas of the city on that Monday alone, Jan. 17, 2022.
Mississauga and other parts of the GTA and southern Ontario hadn’t seen anything like it since near the end of World War II. The 18 or so inches of snow left behind by that first storm was the most the city had received in a single day since 1944, when Mississauga was known as Toronto Township.
Digging out a city as large as Mississauga — the seventh-largest in Canada — from such a massive winter storm taxed snowplows and the city’s winter maintenance crews to the max.
“We started preparing for the storm the day before. Based on the forecasts, we knew it would be a long event with lots of snow,” Scott Holmes, senior manager with the city’s works, operations and maintenance department, told insauga.com this week.
He noted the 45 cm of snow that fell was more than one-third of the total amount of snow that fell on Mississauga that entire winter.
“We deployed around 450 of pieces of (snow-clearing) equipment. Our crews were fantastic in challenging circumstances. It was all-hands-on-deck for days,” Holmes continued. “In some cases, parked cars were stuck on residential streets, which prevented our equipment from getting down the streets to clear them.”
Along with the historic winter storm that struck Mississauga in 2022, which cost nearly $2 million to clean up, came some lessons, too, Holmes added.
“We took learnings from this event and applied them to our newest winter maintenance contract. For instance, we added more snow removal equipment,” he said. “This helps ensure we have enough resources to relocate snow in some areas of the city after extreme weather events to improve sight lines and make space for the next snowfall.”
The massive dump of snow crippled many parts of Mississauga and other municipalities for days or longer.
In describing the winter storm that slammed Mississauga and the rest of southern Ontario as a near-record event in the city in terms of snowfall, former mayor Bonnie Crombie at the time praised Mississauga winter maintenance crews for their “round-the-clock” efforts in clearing the snow from major and secondary roads.
“It was truly an all-hands-on-deck effort,” Crombie said days after the historic storm, noting no major roads were closed due to the wintry mess and only several MiWay buses became stuck in snow.
Still, numerous residents across the city became stranded in their homes by huge windrows of hard, chunky snow and ice that blocked many driveways and residential courts.
They flooded city councillors with calls and emails on the Tuesday and Wednesday of that week wanting to know when the snow would be cleared.
Ward 3 Coun. Chris Fonseca said at the time that many residents were “just beside themselves” and couldn’t get out of their homes or their streets.
The situation prompted Mississauga city council to pass an emergency motion on the Wednesday of “storm week” directing snowplows to not only prioritize clearing the main roads in the wake of the second significant snowfall, but to quickly get to the secondary roads in residential neighbourhoods as well.
All roads in the city were reported cleared by the Wednesday night or early Thursday morning.
Geoff Wright, the city’s commissioner of transportation and works, at the time described the winter storm as “an extraordinary event” that had crews working round-the-clock to clear the snow.
Below are a couple of tweets from the City of Mississauga on the day the major storm hit, Jan. 17, 2022.
Significant Weather Event Declaration Ended: With 45 cm of snow, #Mississauga crews continue work on all surfaces. Reminder — temporary parking permits are suspended. Please keep parked vehicles off streets to help with snow clearing today. #Mississauga #ONStorm
— Mississauga Snow (@MississaugaSnow) January 17, 2022
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We have not seen this much snow in a long time & ask for your patience as we work to get things cleared as quickly as we can. Follow @MississaugaSnow for real time updates. https://t.co/HNLiwvPwr7 pic.twitter.com/3Cthnt5qvC
— City of Mississauga (@citymississauga) January 17, 2022