Heavy rain and thunderstorm now the risk for southern Ontario
Thursday, February 20, 2014, 6:46 PM -
Southern Ontario is once again in the path of a major storm.
Snow moved into the GTA around 3 p.m., Thursday creating commuter chaos. Although the forecast was calling for some snow, it still managed to catch many off guard.
"We were expecting a bit more rain," said Weather Network meteorologist Mark Robinson, reporting live on location in the Brantford area Thursday, "but Mother Nature has decided to fool us."
The heavy snow came along the warm front. Snow is expected to change to rain as the evening progresses.
Wind gusts up to 80 km/h are possible through the evening with the initial push of moisture, and will strengthen again midday Friday as the cold front makes its way through.
The wintry conditions are courtesy of merging systems that will bring active weather to a large portion of the province.
"A Colorado Low and Alberta Clipper will join forces and bring stormy weather to Ontario Thursday through Saturday with snow, rain, wind and even the slight chance of some thunder," says Weather Network meteorologist Dayna Vettese. "This is a complex system that will dump everything but the kitchen sink in southern Ontario, but will be a potent winter storm with heavy snow and winds in northern Ontario."
TALE OF TWO SEASONS: Rain in the south, heavy snow in the north
Environment Canada issued rainfall warnings for much of the south, with the Windsor-Sarnia to Hamilton-Niagara corridor getting the worst of it.
Some communities could see periods of freezing rain Thursday evening.
"We're not worried about trees and powerlines, don't look for a large ice build up, but driveways, parking lots, sidewalks, side streets are all very cold, so we do expect a glaze to develop, which could result in some dangerous and tricky travel conditions," adds Gillham.
Freezing rain warnings were issued for parts of eastern Ontario, including the City of Ottawa, where several hours of freezing rain are expected Thursday night.
"Thursday night into early Friday morning, all regions of southern Ontario will experience rain with the exception of areas from about North Bay to Ottawa Valley, where a longer period of freezing rain is possible with an area of snow directly to the north of that freezing rain line," Vettese adds.
Non-severe thunderstorms are also possible Thursday night, especially in southwestern Ontario.
"As the cold front makes its way through Friday morning (west to east) across the region, a change back to snow or rain-snow mix is possible before the precipitation ends through Friday evening," Vettese says.
Gusts up to 90 km/h are expected Friday.
With all of this rain comes the threat for flooding, prompting the Ministry of Natural resources to issue flood statements across the province.
Heavy snow on many roadways is also a concern as many drains are blocked by the snow.
Residents are advised to clear their catch basins and stay away from any fast-moving bodies of water.
"There's a lot of snow to melt, but for the areas with extensive snow cover, the snow is going to absorb a lot of that water," Gillham says. "So we're going to see significant runoff, but we're also going to add more water to the snow pack, so eventually when it does melt in the spring, we could have further problems."
HOPE FOR SPRING?
According to Gillham, this system is taking on characteristics of a classic early spring storm.
"We'll see temperatures well above seasonal, but storms at this time of year certainly can do that, tap into some warmer air. Unfortunately after this storm, there's no spring weather in the forecast."
Gillham says looking ahead to the long range, air masses from Siberia will bring more cold conditions.
"We'll see some bitterly cold temperatures to end February and into early March, and at this point the long range for the month of March is showing widespread below seasonal temperatures."
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