January thaw brings its own risks to southern Ontario
Saturday, January 11, 2014, 9:41 AM -
People in southern Ontario woke Saturday to find themselves well out of the deep freeze that drove temperatures well below zero earlier in the week.
With daytime highs approaching 5C in many areas, much of the snow leftover from past storms is melting steadily, but with it comes new risks.
"A low pressure system is bringing mild and rainy conditions to southern Ontario, although with the threat for freezing rain in southern Quebec and eastern Ontario," Weather Network meteorologist Monica Vaswani said Saturday morning.
Roads and sidewalks were icy as pre-dawn temperatures hovered around zero, while in eastern Ontario, Environment Canada issued freezing rain warnings.
TUNE IN: We'll be covering the affects of the thaw throughout the weekend, including on-the-ground coverage from Elora.
Fog patches, meanwhile, were common along roads and highways, making for potentially dangerous driving conditions.
Several collisions were reported in southwestern Ontario, with more likely as Saturday wears on.
With a large amount of snow on the ground across the region, that's a lot of meltwater for the region's watersheds to handle.
Several municipalities warned residents to keep an eye on water levels in their communities, as well as stay away from rivers and streams likely to be higher than usual. The Toronto and Region Conservation Authority, along with its counterparts in other cities, issued flood warnings for the region's meltwater-swollen watershed.
Wetter, heavier snow may also be the last straw for homes and cottages already overburdened from the season already, raising the potential for property damage.
The heaviest rain across the region was scheduled for Friday night, through to Saturday afternoon.
Rainfall amounts in southern Ontario are generally expected to be around 15-25 mm along with mild temperatures.
A cold front will begin to cross the area from west to east in the afternoon, according to Environment Canada.
As a result, winds will start to pick up, blowing away the fog, but the rain will change to flurries overnight as temperatures drop below zero.
Communities west of Timmins and Sault Ste. Marie began seeing snow on Friday night, with 5-15 cm possible through Saturday, although there could be periods of freezing rain.