Ontario, Quebec hit by heavy snowfall as winter officially arrives
Published Friday, December 21, 2012 6:49AM EST
Last Updated Friday, December 21, 2012 9:42PM EST
A storm that cancelled flights and dumped more than 20 centimetres of snow on the American Midwest this week moved across parts of Ontario and Quebec Friday, snarling holiday travel on this side of the border.
About 10 per cent of incoming flights to Toronto’s Pearson airport had been cancelled by 8:30 a.m. Friday, one of the busiest travel days of the year.
Snow began in Ontario on Thursday afternoon, gradually tapering off by the evening. Sudbury reported the most snow with a total of 33 centimetres, according to Environment Canada. Although most of the snow has fallen, 5 to 10 centimetres are still possible near the Quebec border, according to the agency.
On Friday, flights leaving Pearson remained largely on time, but travellers looking at the departure board at Montreal’s Trudeau airport were seeing red. There, flights to and from U.S. destinations such as Chicago, New Jersey and even Miami had been cancelled or delayed.
Drivers were warned about gusting winds that could drastically lower visibility.
“Motorists should be prepared for hazardous winter driving conditions and adjust travel plans accordingly,” a warning posted on the agency’s website Friday said.
“The snow will taper off from west to east on Saturday as the storm moves away across Eastern Quebec,” the agency said. There, regions near Quebec City, Saguenay and Charlevoix could see 25 to a whopping 60 centimetres of snow over the next 24 hours – with Montreal largely escaping a similar snow pileup due to warmer temperatures in the southern part of the province.
In parts or Northern Quebec strong easterly winds are expected to sweep up the snow by noon on Saturday, producing blizzard conditions.
As it heads east of Quebec, the storm will dump snow and ice pellets on Northern New Brunswick, with the southern part of the province expected to see 25 millimetres of rain by Saturday morning. Winds will be high as well, with gusts of 80 kilometres an hour expected near the Bay of Fundy, going as high as 140 kph off the southwestern coast of Newfoundland.
Environment Canada has also posted weather warnings for parts of Northern British Columbia and Yukon on Friday, predicting wind-chills of -25 C on B.C.’s North Coast into next week. Motorists near Whitehorse are also being warned to take caution, as the high winds are expected to drastically limit visibility Friday morning on the South Klondike Highway. Wind-chill values there will be closer to -40 C.
In the U.S. on Thursday, more than 1,000 flights were cancelled – including 500 in Chicago. However, in the greater scheme of things, that’s fairly minor: 13,000 flights were cancelled over two days during a storm in February 2011, and 20,000 were cancelled during the recent Superstorm Sandy.
Dangerous American road conditions were blamed for at least five deaths this week as the storm travelled from Kansas to Wisconsin. In Iowa, almost 200 kilometres of an interstate highway was shut down, requiring National Guard troops to save stranded drivers.
With files from The Associated Press