Winter storm blasts across Ontario, parts of Quebec
A snowstorm battered southern Ontario and parts of Quebec Monday, with between 15 and 60 centimetres of snow falling across the provinces.
With high winds and poor visibility, Environment Canada issued blizzard warnings across much of southern Ontario Monday morning. Conditions began improving Monday afternoon, although most of the region remained under snowfall and winter storm warnings until the evening.
Up to 60 centimetres of snow was expected to fall in several cities, particularly those on or near Lake Ontario, like Hamilton, Burlington, Mississauga, Toronto, Cobourg and Belleville. Ottawa and its surroundings were expected to receive up to 50 centimetres.
Environment Canada senior climatologist Dave Phillips said on CTV News Channel Monday that the storm could be “one of the snowiest days in recent history,” after parts of the country were in a “snow drought” this winter.
“This storm is a hard hitter but it really is also a quick hitter,” Phillips said. “It arrived on time like it was following a script…very few areas will escape this…with really a lot of snow in certain areas, looking at these numbers for Toronto, this isn’t even a two or three-day event, this is less than a day.”
Phillips said the storm was going to dump a lot of snow with very strong winds, which is what makes it an “impactful event.”
“You’re going to have to be pushing it, plowing it and shovelling it two or three times before it settles down,” he said of the amount of snow expected in some regions.
“It’s a very potent storm, there are a lot of dangers with it,” Phillips said, citing factors such as very poor visibility in Toronto.
The storm prompted the temporary closure of the Gardiner Expressway and Don Valley Parkway in Toronto, two main thoroughfares for the city. There were also numerous public transit delays and cancellations in the city.
Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said the roads were treacherous and that many people were stuck on Highway 401 due to the snow and poor visibility.
“It’s just been an absolute mess,” Schmidt said on CTV News Channel Monday. “It’s just a day of frustration for pretty much everyone on the roads.”
Schmidt declared Monday as the day people “should stay home.”
Despite the warning, Ontario Premier Doug Ford headed out into the storm and was photographed in Toronto helping a few stranded motorists dig out their cars.
On Monday, several southern Ontario school boards cancelled what was supposed to be the first day of in-class learning since December. Canada Post also halted services and vaccination clinics in Toronto, Durham, Peel, York and Ottawa were closed until Tuesday.
Both Toronto and Ottawa reported it could take days to clear all the snow from the cities’ roads, where multiple crashes were reported. In Ottawa, a life was saved thanks to a quick-thinking eight-year-old boy, who had his parents call 911 when he saw an elderly man almost buried in the snow.
Much like its neighbour, southern Quebec was blanketed with snow and Environment Canada warnings on Monday as the massive winter storm made its way across eastern Canada.
Snowfall and winter storm warnings were issued for much of southern Quebec, with anywhere from five to 25 centimetres of snow anticipated. Across from Ottawa, Gatineau was expected to receive the most in the province, with 30 to 50 centimetres in the forecast.
South of Montreal, highways were shut down and at least a dozen people were taken to hospital following three pileups involving nearly 75 vehicles. The Greater Montreal Area was expecting as much as 25 centimetres of snow Monday.
In addition to snow, storm surge warnings were in effect for several coastal regions along the St. Lawrence River and Gaspe Peninsula on Monday. Further north in Quebec, the regions of Waskaganish, Parent-Gouin Reservoir, Matagami, Chibougamau and Abitibi were all under extreme cold warnings, with wind chill estimated to make it feel like -38 to -42 C from Monday night to Tuesday morning.