'Snow snake' hits major Ontario highway hard Wednesday morning
An intense snow squall off of Lake Ontario created locally heavy accumulations and dangerous whiteout conditions Wednesday morning.
Winter weather travel advisories were issued across Huron County early Wednesday morning, as locally heavy snow squalls made for difficult travel and whiteout conditions along the QEW corridor.
Squalls, more commonly known as lake-effect snow, occur as cold air sweeps in over the ice-free Great Lakes in parts of early winter or late fall. The cold, dry air "picks up" moisture from the relatively warm lakes, continues over the land and dumps the moisture as snow.
Snow squalls are a part of winter life in southern Ontario, but they are also notoriously difficult to forecast for.
On Wednesday morning, frigid easterly winds poured across Lake Ontario.
"The majority of the band remained offshore, where it would have had minimal impact, but a small swirl in the flow developed near the west of the lake, which sent the band arcing southwards and directly into northern parts of the Niagara Peninsula," explains Michael Carter a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
This brought periods of localized whiteout conditions to places like Grimsby, and extremely hazardous and rapidly changing conditions to parts of the QEW corridor.
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As a more dominant southwest flow develops throughout the day, the band may drift north and impact areas along the western edge of Lake Ontario and then along the northern shoreline as well. Areas such as Hamilton, east through Toronto, may see parts of the snow squall nudge in during the early afternoon hours.
While the squall will likely break apart at this point, if snow does make its way into Toronto, it may continue to drift even further east through parts of the GTA later in the day.
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Another reinforcing shot of frigid weather is expected on Friday and Saturday across the region, though with abundant sunshine expected to splash through much of southern Ontario.
Next week will start out cold as well before turning milder through the mid-week mark, with a milder pattern attempting to return for the second week of February as well.
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Thumbnail image courtesy: Nigel Hay