Prolonged snow continues in Ontario, Quebec, as second storm arrives Thursday
Wednesday’s slow changeover to snow across much of southern Ontario was a prelude to another system arriving on Thursday.
Wednesday may have been Groundhog Day, but it doesn’t take an adorable animal’s shadow to know that winter is far from over. Conditions are going downhill in a hurry as another winter storm spreads over Ontario and Quebec. This multi-day winter weather event will cause quite a few travel disruptions over the next couple of days. The hardest-hit communities could see up to 25 cm of snow, and all this snow is falling on top of what snow and ice remains from January’s big snowstorm. A bevy of warnings and advisories are in effect through the end of the week. More on the timing and expected impacts, below.
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Winter storm warnings, snowfall warnings, and weather advisories are all in place for southern Ontario and Quebec as a far-reaching storm spreads across eastern Canada. The first push of wintry weather was the result of Gulf moisture streaming northward and riding over a cold front draped across some of Canada’s most densely populated territory.
Precipitation began as a wintry mix early Wednesday before changing over to snow across parts of the Greater Toronto Area as Arctic air pressed into the region and temperatures dipped below freezing. The entire region should change over to snow through the evening.
The snow almost immediately led to traffic issues across the GTA. The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) tweeted early Wednesday afternoon that officials had responded to 25 collisions by 3:00 p.m. EST.
Slick roads and traffic disruptions will likely continue through the overnight hours as the sun goes down and temperatures drop.
"Motorists should expect hazardous winter driving conditions and adjust travel plans accordingly," says Environment and Climate Change Canada in the winter weather travel advisory.
"Be prepared to adjust your driving with changing road conditions. If visibility is reduced while driving, slow down, watch for tail lights ahead and be prepared to stop. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery."
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MORE UNCERTAINTY WITH THE SECOND WAVE OF SNOWFALL THURSDAY
A second round of snow will push along the lingering cold front on Thursday. The exact track of this second wave of snowfall, however, continues to present a forecasting challenge. Its ultimate track will determine total snowfall accumulations at the end of this long-duration event.
A centre of high pressure to the north holds the key to this second round of snowfall. A stronger high would push Thursday’s system farther to the south, leading to the heaviest accumulations falling over the Niagara region. This track would also lead to a lull in precipitation for the GTA and eastern Ontario.
Forecasters will continue to monitor the potential for Thursday's snow to take a more northerly track, which would then bring the chance for more hours of snow and higher accumulations across the GTA.
The greatest snowfall totals are likely across the Niagara region, with some communities logging up to 25 cm of snow by the end of the storm. 15-20 cm of snow is likely across parts of cottage country and along the Laurentians. Montreal and the National Capital Region could see about 10 cm of snow by Friday morning.
Regardless, any additional snow will only add to the mounds of snow and ice that remain from the massive storm that hit on Jan. 17.
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CITY OF TORONTO READY FOR THE SNOW
In preparation for this week's multi-day snowfall event, the City of Toronto’s winter crews are ready to work non-stop. Operations will be focused on the safety and movement of residents and emergency vehicles, with salting and plowing of roads, sidewalks and bike lanes. The city has the following 24/7 staff and equipment that will be used in response:
More than 1,500 personnel (contracted and city staff)
600 snow plows
360 sidewalk plows
200 salt trucks
"We are going to be making every effort to plow snow to the curb, but based on the amount of snow and the limited right of way capacity, certain curb lanes may become impacted. So we will always ensure that there is an active lane and that we haven’t obstructed the sidewalks," Barbara Gray, general manager of Transportation Services, at a press conference.
Plows and salters will be strategically placed across the city, ready to begin operations in their assigned areas as soon as possible in response to the weather. Plowing crews will be deployed on major streets and sidewalks as the snow falls, plowing hard and fast overnight.
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Beyond the storm, another blast of Arctic air will press over the region late week, with temperatures steadily falling during the storm and frigid weather likely for Friday and Saturday.
While the frigid pattern will relax somewhat as we head into next week, there is no sustained warmth in sight. Arctic air will continue to make attempts at returning, while milder air also attempts to build into the region. This should keep the pattern rather active, with plenty of winter weather still ahead through February.
Stay tuned to The Weather Network and check back frequently for all the latest updates as we head into the beginning of February.
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