Prolonged winter storm threatens hefty snow totals in Ontario, Quebec

Digital WritersThe Weather Network
Digital Writers

A large chunk of Eastern Canada will be in the crosshairs of a major snow event this week, with additional heavy amounts possible in areas in Ontario and Quebec still grappling with impacts from the winter storm in mid-January.

With February kicking off Tuesday, Central Canada is preparing for another major snowfall event. While there are still some uncertainty in accumulations and precise track, residents can expect similar hefty impacts to the same areas that were affected by the Jan. 17 snowstorm. However, the main difference between the two will involve significant snowfall over a much longer duration this week than its predecessor. This should make it manageable for plows to keep roadways somewhat clear during the event. So if you need to clear the driveway or sidewalk from the previous snowfall, Tuesday is the day to do so. Winter storm watches and special weather statements are in effect in southern Ontario. More on the snowfall potential and the multiple commute times at risk, below.


Temperatures will briefly crest Tuesday, providing a perfect window for preparations before the multi-day event begins. The calmer and milder weather will give people the chance to remove any remaining snow. Daytime highs will then plummet Wednesday as the cold front slides through.

Precipitation will begin Tuesday evening as a rain-snow mix for southern Ontario, with widespread snowfall moving in Wednesday, and lasting through Thursday and into early Friday for parts of the region and southern Quebec. Winter storm watches and special weather statements are in place for southern Ontario.

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The setup for this week's active weather will be driven by an atmospheric boundary that puts Arctic air flooding in from the north up against warmer, more moisture-laden air from the Gulf of Mexico. As this boundary persists, a swath of winter weather will develop from the American Rockies to the Great Lakes, bringing far-reaching winter impacts.

"While parts of the U.S. will see the concern for widespread ice, the most likely scenario for Canadians is long-duration snowfall, along an axis including Windsor, Toronto, Montreal, and parts of Atlantic Canada," says Michael Carter, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

While the exact details of snow totals and impacts will continue to be refined as the system approaches.

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"Streets, sidewalks, cars, and roofs that can be cleared should be ahead of this week's additional accumulations," Carter advises.

That's as this week's accumulations will only stack on top of areas that are still grappling with the impacts from the massive storm that hit on Jan. 17.

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The existing snow would make additional snow removal difficult. Any rain could lead to flooding with clogged storm drains, and then exacerbate the risk of a flash freeze. Icy precipitation would further solidify what’s already on the ground. It would be a mess on top of a mess.

This round won't be as fast moving, either, so it could be both widespread and longer duration, likely impacting multiple commute times from Wednesday through to Friday.

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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.

Stay tuned to The Weather Network and check back frequently for all the latest updates as we head into the beginning of February.