Freezing rain and heavy snow could result in dangerous driving across Ontario this weekend
Friday, December 20, 2013, 1:31 -
STORM WATCH: Tune into The Weather Network on TV for continued updates on this storm.
Ontarians are being warned about dangerous travel conditions, courtesy of two significant storms.
STORM 1 - FRIDAY
The first storm arrived on Friday, not long after Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for a large swath of southern Ontario.
Dense fog patches raised concerns in Windsor, Sarnia, London and Niagara, where visibility got as low as 200 metres.
Many communities in southern Ontario, especially those north of the 401, reported freezing rain Friday evening.
"The icy conditions on Friday represent more of an inconvenience and a travel hazard," says Doug Gillham, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
"The real concern is Saturday afternoon into Sunday, where the main storm system heightens the risk for power outages and downed tree branches."
Those with air travel plans are being advised to call ahead as flight delays and cancellations are possible.
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Toronto's Pearson International Airport expects more than two million passengers will travel through the airport during the three weeks surrounding Christmas, with Friday being the busiest day of this year's holiday travel season.
STORM 2 - SATURDAY NIGHT AND SUNDAY
All eyes are on Saturday's forecast, with the potential for a major ice storm across southern Ontario arriving late Saturday and into Sunday morning.
Freezing rain amounts ranging from 3 to 8 mm are expected.
Wiarton through Muskoka and near Ottawa will mostly see snow on Saturday, but a mix of freezing rain is expected.
"The real problem [will be] Saturday evening as ice begins to accrete on tree limbs," Chief Meteorologist Chris Scott writes in his latest Insider Insight.
"This is where the concern for power outages begins to increase ... Rural areas and older city neighbourhoods with large trees are particularly vulnerable.
Predicting the scale of power outages is extremely difficult. Freezing rain is almost a guarantee in these areas, but it’s difficult to say exactly how this will affect the electrical grid. The Weather Network’s forecast centre has been in close contact with Hydro One over the past few days and they are as prepared as possible. We do expect there to be power outages given the amount of freezing rain forecast. In a worst case scenario, the hardest hit rural areas may be without power for days."
Be sure to check back for frequent updates on this storm and tune into TV as we continue to track its impact.