A major winter storm that pummeled Ontario delivered a record-breaking amount of snow to Montreal and parts of Quebec Thursday before pushing its way into the Maritimes.

A least 45 to 50 centimetres had fallen in Montreal and some surrounding areas by Thursday evening, surpassing the previous one-day record of 43 centimetres that was set in March 1971, according to Environment Canada.

The city reported many road accidents, including a pileup involving at least 15 vehicles on a highway east of Montreal. In that incident, no serious injuries were reported.

The pileup prompted police to shut down a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway, with provincial police using snowmobiles to access a closed portion of Highway 40.

Transit services were crippled as buses, planes and trains were delayed or cancelled altogether.

Montreal police to appeal to motorists to stay off the roads if possible, in order to make way for emergency vehicles.

Police weren’t the only ones on snowmobiles. Hydro Quebec workers had to employ snowmobiles and snowshoes to reach customers who had lost power in a previous storm, a spokesperson said.

Though most of the customers who had lost power last week had their service restored, new outages were being reported with Thursday’s storm.

In the Lachine area, a CTV News viewer captured video footage of a public transit bus nearly hitting a shelter as it drifted across an intersection.

Some regions of Quebec were expected to get a record-breaking 50 centimetres of snowfall before the blustery weather moved on toward Atlantic Canada.

Parts of New Brunswick and Nova Scotia are poised to receive blowing snow, wind and rain when the storm arrived Thursday evening.

Whipping winds have churned up choppy waters in Nova Scotia and parts of Cape Breton are bracing for gusts greater than 100 km per hour.  

Environment Canada has warned that the conditions are expected to reduce visibility on roadways, and whip waves against the Atlantic coast.

“Typically, these storms bring a real suite of precipitation types to the Maritimes,” the agency’s senior climatologist Dave Phillips told CTV News Channel. “You’re going from snow, rain, ice pellets, freezing rain and a congealed mixture of all of the above.”

In Ontario, blowing snow and slippery roadways complicated the morning commute Thursday. Ontario Provincial Police reported several single-vehicle collisions -- in Pickering, St. Catharines, Vaughan and beyond -- as vehicles ended up in ditches or stranded on roadways.

For Toronto, the storm marked the city’s first major snowfall this season. The city hasn’t received more than 10 centimetres of snow since March 23, 2011, when 12.6 centimetres of snow was recorded at Pearson International Airport.

The Toronto Transit Commission was forced to divert several buses in the city’s west end Thursday morning due to an out-of-order snow removal vehicle. Meanwhile, snow plows and salt trucks slogged through city streets, brown and gray with slush by rush hour.

Further east, Kingston was blanketed with roughly 30 centimetres of snow overnight, the highest amount reported in southern Ontario as a result of the winter storm.

Phillips noted that often the storm’s location that determines how badly an area is hit by a storm.

“The further north you are it’ll be more of a snow event, but the further south it could be all rain but along with some very powerful winds at the same time,” he said.

Storm leaves path of damage in the U.S.

South of the border, the powerful storm system tore through the United States’ midsection over the holidays where it is blamed for 15 deaths and knocking down power lines.

By Boxing Day, the storm had pushed into the U.S. Northeast, coating communities with snow and rain. The system has been blamed for nine deaths, several of which are vehicle collisions.

Authorities in Ohio said the weather was to blame Wednesday in the death of an 18-year-old girl, who was killed when her car collided with an oncoming snow plow.

In Indiana, two people were killed when they lost control of their scooter on a snow-covered street and were struck by a pick-up truck.

Additional deaths due to wind-toppled trees have been reported in Texas and Louisiana.

Gusting winds knocked out power to nearly 200,000 people in Arkansas. Electricity service Entergy Arkansas has said it could take a week to reverse the damage to snapped utility poles and wires.

The weather prompted Arkansas Governor Mike Beebe to declare a statewide emergency.

With files from Vanessa Greco and The Canadian Press