Montreal announces earliest snow-removal operation in its history

Snow-removing operations typically don't occur until later in the season

Transports Québec is asking people to avoid driving, with many roads still uncleared and covered in a thin sheet of ice as an early-season snowfall continues to batter the province.

"Winter tires can be a problem this morning — we know the deadline is Dec. 1 and some wait until the last minute and that could be a problem," said ministry spokesperson Émilie Lord.


Montreal was under more than 17 cm by 6 a.m. Tuesday, prompting Transports Québec to ask people to avoid driving. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

Lord said 97 per cent of snow-removal contractors hired by Transports Québec are out, clearing roads across the province.

Environment Canada issued a warning Monday, calling for 15 to 20 centimetres. By 6 a.m., 17 centimetres had fallen in the Montreal area, accompanied by winds reaching 40 kilometres an hour.

In eastern Quebec, snowfall has climbed above 20 centimetres, with winds of up to 70 kilometres an hour.

The snow is expected to slow down after 7 a.m. and stop before noon, said Environment Canada Meteorologist Alexandre Parent.

Content continues below

The snow has closed about 10 school boards across the province, caused flight delays out of the Montreal airport, and slowed public transit in the city.


The City of Montreal says this is its earliest snow removal operation ever, breaking the Nov. 19 record from 1983.

But Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said Monday citizens can be reassured: "We are ready," she said.

Jean-François Parenteau, the member of the city's executive committee responsible for snow-clearing, said the city had to call in private contractors early for the operation.

Those contracts typically start Nov. 15, he said.

"We made calls yesterday to make sure everyone was ready. We've mobilized about 3,000 people," Parenteau said, speaking on Radio-Canada's Tout un matin morning radio programme.

Content continues below

Environment Canada's Parent said the snow usually arrives around mid-December for Montreal.

"We're a month early, but we're not breaking records because we've seen in the past late October or really early November," Parent said.

He said it's a series of cold weather systems happened at once, creating "the perfect timing" for an early snow storm.


Laurie Gignac's appointment to get her tires changed happened to be Tuesday morning. Her dog Haki took advantage of the time before to play in the snow. 'She’s apparently one of the dog breeds that loves the snow the most. Yesterday she was jumping all around and having lots of fun,' Gignac said. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

Laurie Gignac was out walking her dog, Haki, in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough Tuesday morning. Her appointment to get her winter tires installed happened to be just a couple hours away.

"We're going to drive slowly and hope for the best," Gignac said, adding her garage isn't far.

Content continues below

"It was quite a surprise. We were expecting snow but not that much."

This article was originally posted on CBC with files from Jaela Bernstien and Radio-Canada