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Winter Weather Causes Massive Travel Backlog

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Continued extreme winter weather is continuing to wreak havoc in Central Canada, as Toronto's Pearson International Airport has halted all flight landings before 9 a.m. ET Tuesday morning.

Hundreds of would-be passengers queued inside Toronto's main air travel hub, awaiting word of their flight status or simply to retrieve their luggage. Along with ground flights not being permitted to land, a backlog of planes lined the tarmac, waiting for a gate to become available to offload passengers.

Police have moved extra officers into the arrivals and departures areas for crowd control, the CBC's Tony Smyth reported.

Overnight, the City of Toronto experienced frigid temperatures feeling as cold as  –35 C to –40 C with wind chill. Environment Canada warned residents heading outside that exposed skin can freeze in less than five minutes in such conditions.

The extreme weather caused a backlog at the city's international airport Tuesday morning.

"As of now there is a ground stop in effect for Toronto arrivals until 9 a.m. ET, meaning that flights are not permitted to land, as well as a backlog of aircraft on the ground at the airport waiting for a gate to become available to offload guests," WestJet said in a written statement.

"We have been advised that in order to efficiently process incoming aircraft, guests will be offloaded as soon as gates become available but baggage will have to remain on board some flights until sometime Tuesday."

Airlines are urging passengers to check their flight status before heading to the airport because of cancellations or delays.

Similar problems occurred at Pearson on Monday, when dozens of passengers were stranded on the tarmac for hours due to a backlog of planes waiting for a gate.

Relentless winter weather is causing misery across much of Canada, with all of southern Ontario and most of the north
facing dangerous wind chills ranging from –30 C to –45 C. Some areas of the south also face blizzard and snow squall
warnings.

In Quebec, wind, rain and blizzard warnings are in effect for most of the province. Just under 1,000 Hydro Quebec customers remain without power, down from a high of 30,000 on Monday afternoon.

And about 1,000 customers in Newfoundland are still in the dark after a mass power outage over the weekend.

Officials in Newfoundland say rotating outages could return during peak demand periods. At the peak of the outages Saturday morning, about 190,000 customers were without power.

Much of the province remains under wind, rainfall, freezing rain and winter storm warnings. An additional five to 10 centimetres of snow is expected to fall in some areas, while others are warned to expect as much as 35 millimetres of rain and winds of up to 100 kilometres an hour.

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