Eastern Canada digs out as major winter storm heads for the Maritimes
TORONTO -- A cleanup is underway in Eastern Canada after a major winter storm dumped wet snow in Ontario and Quebec overnight before making its way to the Maritimes.
Light snow began falling in southern Ontario on Wednesday morning and became heavy at times throughout the day. The most intense snowfall occurred Wednesday evening and overnight into Thursday.
By Tuesday morning, Ontario Provincial Police said they had already responded to approximately 180 collisions on highways in the Toronto area due to the storm.
According to Environment Canada, 15 cm of snow had fallen at Toronto Pearson International Airport by mid-morning Thursday.
In the Greater Toronto Area, Whitby was hit the hardest, with a whopping 22 cm of snow reported.
School buses were cancelled at multiple boards in the Greater Toronto Area on Thursday due to slippery road conditions and blowing snow.
North of Toronto, the areas around Barrie, Orillia, and Midland were under a snowfall warning, a snow squall watch, and a blowing snow advisory; however, those were downgraded to just a snow squall warning later Thursday morning.
The snow squalls were expected to develop Thursday afternoon and continue through Friday night. Environment Canada also warned that strong west to northwesterly winds would combine with heavy snow in the squalls to produce blowing snow.
In Ottawa, snow and rain began falling on Wednesday, with the city receiving 2 cm of snow and 0.8 mm of rain before the overnight.
By Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada said the city had received 14 cm of snow. Ottawa remained under a winter storm warning into the afternoon, as the snow was expected to continue to fall in to the evening.
Total snowfall amounts were expected to be between 15 and 25 cm.
As the low-pressure system, which originated in Texas, made its way east, Quebecers geared up for a dumping of snow that will occur throughout the day Thursday.
In Montreal, a snowfall warning was in effect for the city and surrounding areas, with snowfall amounts of 10 to 15 cm expected. Environment Canada warned that travel conditions could become difficult due to poor visibility and rapidly accumulating snow on the roads.
In preparation for the snow, a number of schools were closed and buses were cancelled as a precaution.
As Thursday progressed, residents in New Brunswick were expected to receive their first taste of the storm, with snow and ice pellets expected to begin in the early afternoon.
The entire province was under a snowfall or winter storm warning, with most areas expecting between 20 and 30 cm of snow.
Northern parts of New Brunswick, including the Bathurst and Chaleur region, the Acadian Peninsula, Kent County, Kouchibouguac National Park, and the Miramichi area could see up to 40 cm of snow by Friday.
“Snow, heavy at times, will spread across New Brunswick from southwest to northeast beginning near noon in the southwest and this afternoon elsewhere,” the weather agency said. “Strong north to northeast winds will give occasional blowing snow late this afternoon and this evening.”
Schools were closed in a number of districts on Thursday morning in anticipation of the storm.
In Nova Scotia, a mixture of wind, rainfall, and winter storm warnings were in effect for the southwest and northeast parts of the province.
The counties of Guysborough, Inverness, Richmond, Shelbourne, Yarmouth, and Digby were all under Environment Canada wind warnings with maximum gusts of 80 km/h expected Thursday afternoon and evening. Along parts of the coast, areas may even see 100 km/h wind gusts at times.
The weather agency’s winter storm warnings for Nova Scotia were in effect for the Sydney metro area, Cape Breton County, and Victoria County. Those regions could see between 15 and 25 cm of snow begin falling Thursday evening and taper into flurries by Friday morning. Some of the areas along the coast may experience a snow-rain mix during the overnight, Environment Canada said.
“In addition higher than normal water levels are expected near high tide this evening and overnight along east to northeast facing shorelines,” the warning read. “Ice rafting along eastern shorelines is also possible, especially in the north.”
Later on Thursday morning, Environment Canada updated its advisories for the province and added snowfall warnings for the counties of Colchester – Cobequid Bay, Colchester County North, Cumberland – Minas Shore, and Cumberland County North and Cobequid Pass.
Those areas could receive 15 to 20 cm of snow, with greater amounts possible over higher terrain in the afternoon and early evening on Thursday, according to the weather agency.
“Precipitation will transition to a period of ice pellets mixed with rain later this evening,” the warning read.
Finally, residents in Newfoundland and Labrador will begin to experience the effects of the storm on Thursday evening and into Friday.
Environment Canada has issued winter storm warnings for the areas of Burgeo – Ramea, Green Bay – White Bay, Channel-Port aux Basques, and the Northern Peninsula East. The weather agency warned that total snowfall amounts of 15 to 25 cm possible in some areas along with maximum wind gusts of 120 km/h in certain regions.
The rest of the province was under a blowing snow advisory with maximum wind gusts of 60 to 80 km/h expected in those regions overnight and through Friday morning. Along the west coast, the gusts could be even more powerful, with maximum speeds of up to 110 to 130 km/h.
“Fresh snowfall will combine with strengthening easterly winds overnight tonight to produce poor visibility in blowing snow, especially during the morning commute,” the advisory read. “Visibility may be significantly and suddenly reduced to near zero.”