Winter makes a comeback in southern Ontario after brief warm-up, heavy rain
Friday, February 21, 2014, 12:16 -
From winter to spring. A powerful storm that pushed into southern Ontario on Thursday left many residents trading the shovels for umbrellas.
But not before a blast of heavy snow caught many commuters off guard during the evening commute.
WHY THE BURST OF HEAVY SNOW FIRST?
"Temperatures were forecast to be very marginal for rain and the extra uplift that occurred, the stronger uplift as evidenced by the thunder storm, cooled the atmosphere just enough for us to have that heavy burst of snow," explains Weather Network meteorologist Doug Gillham. "This resulted in heavier precipitation, along with heavier snow. The worst part was the timing: It started right ahead of the rush hour, and the snow fell quickly."
The snow then changed to rain through the evening and overnight hours, resulting in a slick and slushy mess.
Major street flooding just outside TWN. This was one of my worries with this rain. Be careful out there. pic.twitter.com/U77NqWJ42e— Mark Robinson (@StormhunterTWN) February 21, 2014
That posed a challenge for commuters Friday morning and prompted several school bus cancellations as well.
Ponding was reported on many roads and highways, along with some localized flooding on city streets.
The warming temperatures and heavy rain resulted in a provincial flood watch.
Residents are advised stay away from any bodies of water as conditions may be unstable and water levels could be higher.
From @Audree_BTT The roads are a mess, I was driving on Trafalgar and Britannia and LOTS OF WATER POOLING up to 2 lanes in some area.— Beat the Traffic (@BTT_GTA) February 21, 2014
"There's a lot of snow to melt, but for the areas with extensive snow cover, the snow is going to absorb a lot of that water," Gillham says. "So we're going to see significant runoff, but we're also going to add more water to the snow pack, so eventually when it does melt in the spring, we could have further problems."
"Rain continues to fall across most of the regions this morning, with freezing rain in the Ottawa Valley," said Environment Canada in a statement Friday morning. "The rain will end over southern Ontario this morning, and early this afternoon over eastern Ontario."
Total rainfall amounts of 20-30 mm are expected, with locally higher amounts possible.
"A sharp cold front will blast east across the regions later today and bring the rain to an end," EC adds.
Another quick blast of snow is possible however, as the precipitation tapers later Friday.
"There's also the potential for more ice to develop as temperatures plunge through the day on Friday," says Monica Vaswani, another meteorologist at The Weather Network. "So all the rain that has fallen is going to freeze once again, creating dangerous conditions on the roads Friday night."
Although the rain will taper through the day Friday, that's not the end of the severe weather risk.
Powerful and potentially damaging winds are forecast across the region.
"The temperatures will be at their peak early in the day and then we'll see falling temperatures throughout the day and strong gusty winds," Gillham says.
Wind gusts up to 80 km/h are expected across most of southern Ontario, including regions east of Georgian Bay and eastern Ontario.
"Wind gusts of 60 to 70 km/h are quite possible across the Ottawa Valley later this afternoon as well," EC adds. "These winds are strong enough to result in difficult driving conditions especially for motorists on highways subject to strong and gusty winds."
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Winds will ease through the day on Saturday, but colder temperatures will make a noticeable comeback.
RETURN TO FRIGID TEMPS
"Here we go again," Gillham says. "We're going to have record breaking cold from the central Prairies into Ontario. We'll have cross polar flow, meaning the air masses will be originating in Siberia coming directly over the pole and into Canada."
Gillham adds that bitterly cold temperatures will end February and continue into early March, "and at this point the long range for the month of March is showing widespread below seasonal temperatures."