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Snowstorm strikes southern Ontario

While winter's fury wreaked havoc on roads in cities across the southern Greater Toronto Area (GTA), things were relatively quiet closer to Simcoe County.

"We're more used to winter driving than they are when they get extremes ... in the GTA," said OPP Sgt. Peter Leon, noting most of the 1,200 calls for service that had come in by 2 p.m., Thursday, were from farther south.

About 17 cm fell in the Barrie overnight Wednesday and into Thursday afternoon.

Environment Canada issued a storm warning for southern and eastern Ontario as well as southern Quebec Thursday morning with 20 to 45 centimetres of snow expected. The storm, travelling northeast from New Jersey, is forecast to reach Nova Scotia on Friday.

"This is our first significant dumping of snow this year and it's going to take a bit of getting used to for some people," said Leon, who, despite the relatively low number of crashes locally as of Thursday, reminded motorists to exercise extra caution now that winter is here.

"The posted speed limit is under ideal circumstances," he said. "Reduce your speed, increase your following distance, pack a little patience and be respectful of other drivers."

Because Christmas Day fell on a Tuesday and Boxing Day on a Wednesday this year, it seems a lot of people opted to take the end of the week off, Leon said, noting the number of cars out on the roads was "significantly less than ... a normal Thursday."

Leon encourages people to test the driving conditions by applying the brakes before they get too far to see what they're dealing with.

"If your driveway is slippery, chances are the roads are going to be slippery as well," he said.

—With files from QMI Agency

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