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Montreal residents digging out after severe winter storm

Wednesday, February 13th 2019, 7:02 pm - 'Our team is at work to clean up the sidewalks and the streets,' says Coun. Jean-François Parenteau.

Southern Quebec was clobbered by an overnight storm that dropped 40 centimetres of snow on the Montreal region by noon Wednesday as it worked its way northeast to Quebec City.

The blizzard-like conditions will continue to pummel the province throughout the day, with as much as five more centimetres accumulating in Montreal.

Keep on top of active weather by visiting the ALERTS page.

Quebec City had about 25 centimetres by mid-day with another 10 to 20 to go.

In the west, Gatineau received 40 centimetres and, to the east, 20 centimetres fell on Sherbrooke. There were school closings and transportation woes across the province.

Montreal Snow CBC

Montrealers are waking up Wednesday to roads and sidewalks buried in snow as the winter storm continued to blow, reducing visibility. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

In Montreal, Mayor Valérie Plante told Radio-Canada that crews were working hard to dig the city out, but the conditions are exceptional and it will take some time to clear the snow.

Snow-removal operations will start this evening at 7 p.m.

"Our team is at work to clean up the sidewalks and the streets and all the operations will continue during the day," said Coun. Jean-François Parenteau, the executive committee member in charge of snow operations.

He told CBC Montreal's Daybreak that crews were out all night and "overall, it's pretty good." Salt is being spread throughout the snow-clearing operations, he added.

Parenteau said it is important that people respect temporary no-parking signs to avoid tows and delaying workers.

The snow is covering ice patches and once the snow is removed, crews will break up the ice and spread abrasives until the spring thaw, he said.

STORM SLAMS MUCH OF PROVINCE

Environment Canada is warning of winter storm conditions from Gatineau to the Eastern Townships and on up to the Lac-Saint-Jean region.

The conditions brought "visibility to near zero" at some points, Environment Canada said.

Wind gusts hit 42 km/h overnight in the Montreal area, but it was much worse in Quebec City with sustained winds of 48 km/h and gusts up to 71 km/h.

Winds will be lighter in the afternoon in Montreal, but pick up again evening with gusts reaching 50 km/h — tossing all the snow.

Throughout the morning, authorities warned motorists to adapt to conditions, slow down and and ensure their cars were completely cleared of snow before heading out.

Montreal is encouraging residents to rely on public transit rather than driving. Philippe Déry, spokesperson for Montreal's transit authority (STM) says about a quarter of bus lines are delayed by 10 minutes.

Some were delayed a bit longer than that due to the conditions, he said, but buses are still a safe, efficient way to get around the city. The Metro, he added, was running smoothly without delay as it is not subject to the weather conditions.

"Give yourself more time when getting around," he said. "Check on our website and mobile site to see your bus's location and you will know more precisely when it will arrive."

An accordion bus crashed into a snowbank early Wednesday on Papineau Avenue and needed to be towed. Overall, about 30 bus towing operations were conducted during morning rush hour.

Capture

An STM bus crashed into a snow bank early Wednesday on Montreal's Papineau Avenue and got stuck. It was towed away a short time later. (Radio-Canada)

Hydro-Québec is reporting some power outages in Montreal, Quebec City, the Lower Saint-Lawrence and Chaudière-Appalaches.

As for the major road closures, Highway 20 and Highway 132 between Quebec City and Montmagny are closed in both directions.

QC Snow

Quebec City residents woke up to streets blanketed in freshly fallen snow Wednesday. (Spencer Van Dyk /CBC)

The ferry between ​Quebec City and Lévis has been cancelled until further notice, and the Carnaval de Québec in Quebec City cancelled activities for the day.

SO NOW WHAT?

Good news — the worst is over. The bulk of the snow fell overnight and conditions are expected to lighten this morning.

At its heaviest, snow fell at a rate of four centimetres per hour.

A warm front that has tagged along with the snow will push temperatures up to around the freezing mark.

This storm rivals some of the biggest to hit Quebec in recent memory.

MTQ CONTINUING TO MONITOR SITUATION

In March 2017, the province received 39.4 centimetres over two days, trapping hundreds of vehicles on Highway 13 in Montreal's west end.

Minister of Transport François Bonnardel said Wednesday the MTQ does not want to see a repeat of that disaster.

He spent most of the night in the ministry's control centre making sure operations were running smoothly.

"We were prepared," he said. "There were no major accidents on the road during the night."

The ministry will continue to monitor the situation throughout the day, he said.

Capture

Winds and heavy snow are slowing drivers, commuter trains and cancelling flights. (CBC)

Public Security Minister Geneviève Guilbault said the government has been encouraging people to work from home rather than heading out into the storm.

"I want to thank all citizens, all the people, that made the decision to stay home," she said. "I want to thank all employers who allow their employees to stay home."

She said the effect of people staying home was felt during morning rush hour, as there were fewer cars on the road.

With files from Radio-Canada, CBC Montreal's Daybreak and Cathy Senay

WATCH BELOW: QUEBEC'S WINTER TEAMWORK ON DISPLAY, AT ITS FINEST

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