Travel may be impossible in parts of Canada this weekend, particularly on the East Coast and in Quebec, as most of the country braces for lots of snow and extreme cold.

The federal government has issued a series of warnings for biting cold, high winds and heavy snow on its website.

Environment Canada is warning of an “intense winter storm” that is expected to slam into Quebec and Atlantic Canada. The storm could drop up to 60 centimetres of snow.

“We are all going to earn our citizenship over the next couple of days,” Chris Scott, chief meteorologist with The Weather Network, joked on CTV News Channel.

“From Alberta right through the East Coast, the coldest air of the season, and this storm is all about the clash. It’s the cold pressing down, the warmth coming up from the U.S. and the storm will ride along the 401 in Ontario into Quebec tomorrow.”


Toronto has been warned of snow and bitterly cold temperatures, with wind chill levels dropping as low as -30 C in stormy conditions.

Much of southern Ontario will be on the northern fringe of a major winter storm tracking south off The Great Lakes, Environment Canada said.

“Periods of snow associated with this weather system will begin Saturday morning and taper off late Saturday night,” Environment Canada said in a statement.

“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.”

Scott said this will be the first taste of ‘real’ winter weather for the biggest cities in central and eastern Canada.

“Overall the biggest punch so far for the most people across the nation,” he said.


An intense winter storm will bring significant amounts of snow and generate very strong and frigid northerly winds to the metro Montreal area through Monday.

“It will bring significant amounts of snow and generate very strong and frigid northerly winds producing blowing snow that will considerably reduce visibilities and make roadways very slippery,” Environment Canada said.

Extreme cold warnings have been issues throughout Quebec with some areas experiencing wind chill values near -50 C on Friday morning. But northern Quebec will likely escape the worst of it.

The expected scenario depends on the track of the storm which is still volatile and uncertain, the agency said.

“Quebec City will see winds ripping out of the north east tomorrow off the St Lawrence, it’s going to be like a blizzard,” Scott said.

Atlantic Canada

A storm is forecast to descend on the Maritimes on Sunday and the New Brunswick government is warning residents to prepare for power outages.

“I like to think of it as the atmosphere throwing-up all over New Brunswick [Sunday],” Scott said.

“It truly is going to be everything falling from the sky, that’s going to be ground zero for this storm.”

Environment Canada said a low-pressure system approaching from the southwest will track across the Bay of Fundy, dumping between 20 and 60 centimetres of snow across much of the province. But central and northern New Brunswick will be hit the hardest with potentially 90-centimetres of snowfall.

“I think it’s going to be pretty severe,” Jules Michaud, an executive director for transportation and infrastructure in N.B., told CTV Atlantic. The New Brunswick government is warning people to stay off the roads if at all possible on Sunday to avoid the brunt of the storm.

The storm is also expected to deliver strong winds and freezing rain – with the latter of particular concern to NB Power, the province’s main utility.

Spokesperson Marc Belliveau said freezing rain is what they’re worried about most.

“It’s going to be a pretty significant storm,” he added.

But New Brunswick's Department of Public Safety also cautioned residents to have well-stocked, 72-hour emergency kits in their homes and vehicles.

Travel at times in New Brunswick and southern Quebec may be impossible at times on Sunday, Scott said.

“We will be digging out of this still on Monday, I think there will be a lot of closures Monday from this storm,” he said.

Western Canada

And extreme cold warnings have been issued across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and parts of northern Alberta and Nunavut.

Environment Canada warns people that they expect prolonged periods of cold winds, with some places experiencing -40 C when factoring in the wind chill.

Risks are greater for young children, the elderly and those with chronic illness, Environment Canada said.

West Coast

Strong wind and heavy snowfall warnings are in place along Canada’s Pacific coast, including Vancouver Island.

Meteorologist Matt MacDonald told CTV Vancouver he is most concerned with the northern tip of the island: “There's going to be some very strong southwesterly winds and those tend to be more damaging."

Environment Canada warns parts of British Columbia could see gusts reach up to 110 km/h over the weekend, with other parts expected to be hit with up to 25 centimeteres of snowfall.

--- With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Atlantic