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Snow piles up in Ontario's snowbelt regions as squalls persist Saturday

Saturday, January 23rd 2021, 8:27 am - Travel is not recommended across Ontario's traditional snowbelt regions as potent snow squalls threaten more than 30 cm of snow through Saturday.

After a lack of winter-like temperatures in southern Ontario recently, a pattern change will see daytime high more reflective of this time of the year settle into the region this weekend. This will be accompanied by lingering snow squalls in the traditional snowbelt regions Saturday, leading to more tricky travel for areas impacted. Snow squall warnings and weather advisories are in place still, with some areas locally on tap to see accumulative totals of 30+ cm by the time they diminish Saturday evening. That may not be the end of the snow, as forecasters are also closely watching the track of a Texas low for the start of next week. For a closer look, see below.


  • Snow squalls continue for parts of the southwest, near Georgian Bay Saturday, locally difficult travel
  • Colder temperature pattern settles in, though relatively seasonal
  • Eyes on a possible Texas low early next week


The passage of a cold front not only ushered in colder air, perhaps yielding the chilliest temperatures in the season so far to southern Ontario, but also the winds behind it help generate potent lake-effect snow squalls that will continue Saturday for the traditional snowbelt regions.

The squalls will continue through the afternoon before weakening through the evening as the winds shift to the south due to a trough moving over the upper Great Lakes.

Snow squall warnings continue for Barrie, Orillia, Midland, parts of Grey-Bruce and Huron-Perth, while weather advisories are in effect for London-Middlesex, Oxford-Brant and Waterloo-Wellington regions.

ONDangerZones (Sat AM)

The squalls will make for hazardous local travel, particularly along parts of Highway 21 along the shores of Lake Huron north of Grand Bend, Highway 400 through Barrie and northern Durham, and parts of the 401 between London and Milton.

"Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow," Environment Canada warns. "Travel is expected to be hazardous due to reduced visibility. Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions."

By the time the squalls subside, accumulations could be quite substantial, depending on locations. Locally, another 10 cm is possible Saturday with the main squall, but amounts will be highly variable. Some areas in Grey-Bruce and Huron-Perth could see accumulative totals exceeding 30 cm locally.

ONsnow (SatAM)

While most of the GTA will be dry, some areas may see a flurry or two, but no accumulations are expected.

Temperature-wide, a more consistent cold pattern has locked itself into the region. Temperatures will dip down to the minus single digits across the southwest, while they drop into the minus double digits across cottage country and eastern areas.

For the first time this winter, Toronto dropped below -10°C Saturday morning -- marking the latest date the city has reached that threshold. Overnight lows are expected to reach that mark once again.

ONSatTemp+Wind Chill (Sat AM)

It should be noted that although the temperatures this weekend will be much colder than we've seen this winter, they are more typical of late January and really won't be all that far off of seasonal values.


Behind the trough, a northerly flow will return to southern Ontario to start the week as forecasters are eyeing the potential for a Texas low to approach or track south of the Great Lakes region. There is the possiblity it could bring widespread, significant snow into parts of southern Ontario. There are two possible scenarios for the low.

Texas low

"One scenario keeps the storm well to our south – too far south to bring any significant snow to southern Ontario. However, a second scenario takes the storm on a more northerly track across Ohio (before a second storm develops and takes over off the U.S. East Coast). This scenario would bring significant snow to parts of southern Ontario, especially south of the 401 with the heaviest snow along the north shore of Lake Erie and across the Niagara region," says Gillham, noting the current forecast is a compromise between the two potential scenarios until confidence increases as to whether a hit or miss is more likely.

Near to slightly below seasonal temperatures are expected to dominate next week.

Thumbnail courtesy of Mark Robinson.

Be sure to check back for updates as we continue to monitor the potent lake-effect potential and looming storm early next week.

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