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Get your shovels ready. Winter is almost here.

Nailing down the details for the weekend storm in eastern Canada

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Dayna Vettese

Friday, December 13, 2013, 2:45 PM -

The pre-Christmas snowstorm is on the way for Eastern Canada and we’re continuously updating the forecast as the snow approaches. 

We have been obsessively checking the newest forecast models and the picture is clear: Saturday through Monday will be a snowy scene for much of southern Ontario, southern Quebec and Atlantic Canada. 

Generally, across southern Ontario and southern Quebec we are looking at 5-10 cm but Niagara region and areas on the west end of Lake Ontario are looking at 10-15 cm with isolated higher amounts. For Atlantic Canada, 15+ cm is the likely scenario as well as very strong winds. 

The initial impulse has moved across Ontario combining with the snow squalls that have been impacting the snow belt regions. 

About 2-5 cm has fallen across the region (outside of the snow squalls) and made for treacherous driving conditions on the major highways.  Hot on the heels of this system is a stronger, larger, snowier storm that will lead to essentially two systems: one that brings some snow to Ontario and southern Quebec and another east coast low that will impact the eastern United States and Atlantic Canada.

This isn’t the first snow we’ve experienced this season and it certainly won’t be the last but being this close to the holidays, it is important to get a heads up of any inclement weather on the horizon. Many of you will be out running around this weekend holiday shopping, visiting friends and family so please take care on the roads.

Ontario and Quebec

Snow will pick across southern Ontario spreading from the southwest to the Greater Toronto area throughout Saturday morning and close to noon. The snow will move into the eastern Ontario and southern Quebec region into the evening Saturday. 

Overnight Saturday and into Sunday, snow will continue to fall and begin to taper off into the late afternoon and evening time period for southern Ontario and overnight Sunday for southern Quebec. Snowfall amounts of 5-10 cm across southern Ontario and Quebec look likely at this point however, Niagara region and areas on the west end of Lake Ontario are likely to receive 10-15 cm. 

Global forecast model's solution for snowfall totals (in inches) through Sunday night.

Global forecast model's solution for snowfall totals (in inches) through Sunday night.

Easterly winds off Lake Ontario will help to provide extra moisture and lift to the system which is why spots like Mississauga, Burlington, Oakville and Hamilton could receive up to 15 cm or more once all is said and done. We will still dealing with some gusty winds on Saturday and Sunday with gusts 50-60 km/h. This is certainly not the biggest snow we have seen in the region, even this year, but the timing is what makes the storm so impactful. We are two weekends out from Christmas so the holiday crunch is on. Parking lots at malls and local roads will be jam packed with people getting their shopping and preparations done. Be sure to check regularly for forecast updates and road conditions before you head out.

As if that isn’t enough, confidence is high that snow squalls will fill the void once this snowstorm exits. The squalls will develop off of the southern Great Lakes on Sunday and continue through the day Monday. With a northerly and northwesterly wind component, areas like Barrie, Collingwood, London and areas west, will be impacted by the snow squalls (great news for the ski resorts!).

TRACKING ACTIVE WEATHER: Tune into The Weather Network on TV for continued updates on this system.

Atlantic Canada

Saturday into Sunday, the east coast low will take shape off of the eastern coast of the United States. Conditions in the Maritimes will deteriorate overnight Saturday into Sunday and snow begins to move in and the winds pick up. We are looking at snow for the Maritimes and with current forecast model indications; the trend is leaning toward a snowier scene for Nova Scotia and eastern New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island. Snow will continue across the Maritimes on Sunday and move into Newfoundland for late Sunday morning. 

At this point, it looks as though the heaviest snow will impact eastern Newfoundland including the Avalon Peninsula. On the back side of the system, we could get another wave of precipitation across Atlantic Canada on Monday.

Global forecast model's solution for snowfall totals (in inches) through Monday night.

Global forecast model's solution for snowfall totals (in inches) through Monday night.

We are looking at 15-25 cm across Nova Scotia and western New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island with locally higher amounts possible. In Newfoundland, we’re expecting 15+ cm across the Avalon Peninsula. As mentioned previously, the eastward shift in the system would essentially bring less snow to western portions New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island but still have Nova Scotia in the cross hairs for heavy snow. 

There is a little bit of uncertainty as to the exact track of the system and this then leads us to some uncertainty with the snowfall totals for the Avalon Peninsula and the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia. The complication is the risk of some rain mixing with the snow in the aforementioned regions which could keep snowfall totals on the low end. The winds are certainly going to be a bigger story for Atlantic Canada than in Ontario and southern Quebec. Though the winds will be gusty in Ontario and southern Quebec, we could be dealing with gusts 80-100 km/h for the majority of the shorelines in Atlantic Canada.

Global forecast model wind speeds (in knots) and mean sea level pressure Sunday night

Global forecast model wind speeds (in knots) and mean sea level pressure Sunday night

The cold temperatures will be sticking around for Eastern Canada for a while so the snow won't be going anywhere fast once it falls. This is a very busy time of year with holiday parties, shopping, running errands, visiting family and friends so please keep up to date with the latest forecast information, watches and warnings. Our confidence is high that there will be impactful, snowy weather this weekend right across Eastern Canada. 

The finer nuances of the forecast could change as this includes exact snowfall amounts in the forecast, exact timing and track of the system. The overall message, though, will not change: accumulating snow is headed our way this weekend in Eastern Canada and we need to plan accordingly.

Snow squalls in southwest Ontario as weekend storm looms
First the deep freeze, then the snow: Winter storm bound for Atlantic Canada

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