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ONTARIO | Prolonged freezing rain

Ontario: More challenging travel in the wake of next storm

Digital writers

Thursday, February 7, 2019, 4:48 PM - It's another day of slower commute times and school bus cancellations as parts of southern Ontario continue to deal with the left overs from Wednesday's dangerous ice storm. And just as this first icy round wraps up, another moisture packed system threatens more freezing rain ahead of a huge temperature swing that will bring temporary spring-like values. Snow squalls and strong winds have also prompted some warnings for the region with gusts over 90 km/h expected by Friday. In northern parts of the province, it's another snow-FILLED storm. More on the challenging wintry travel to contend with, plus a look at the wild temperature rollercoaster, below.


  • Latest warnings HERE
  • Patchy freezing drizzle continues across parts of southern Ontario ahead of the next low pressure system
  • Next system will spread primarily rain, however a brief period of freezing rain is possible for parts of the GTA before temperatures begin to climb
  • Significant snowfall moves into northern Ontario
  • Very strong winds develop Thursday night and last through Friday with 90+ km/h gusts accompanied by weak lake-effect snow bands

(MUST SEE: Photos of Wednesday's disruptive ICE STORM)


While the worst of Wednesday's icy storm exits the region on Thursday, it leaves behind some lingering impacts in the form of widespread freezing drizzle and fog. Freezing drizzle advisories remain in effect for much of the region with "challenging winter travelling conditions" expected due to the prolonged period of icing. As a result, the Halton school district cancelled all buses for the second day in a row on Thursday.

At the same time, the main boundary between warmth from the south and Arctic chill from the north remains draped over the Lower Great Lakes, and that means we're not of the of the woods just yet.



Another pulse of icy precipitation follows on the heels of the first for Thursday, as the next moisture packed wave tracks into the province. This one will shove the boundary between cold and milder air well to the north, and put an eventual stop to the freezing drizzle in the south. With that said, pockets of colder surface temperatures mean we're looking at the risk for some additional freezing rain Thursday evening for the GTA, Huron-Perth, and east along the 401 toward Oshawa.

"We are closely watching temperatures for Thursday evening as they will be very close to the freezing mark across much of the GTA as rain re-develops across the region," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham. "This gives us the risk for a couple hours of freezing rain during the afternoon before changing over to light rain in the overnight." 

As the system lifts north it brings with it an even more powerful surge of mild air, and that means some temperatures in the south will jump right back up again on Thursday -- into the low teens for some in the extreme southwest. We also have the risk for a thunderstorm during the evening hours, especially for areas towards Lake Erie. 

(Related: Flood warnings issued along Grand River as ice jams build)

This quick return to warmer weather also increases the chances for ice jams forming on the Grand River to break up on Thursday, along with the potential to exacerbate flooding concerns in the area.


Unfortunately, as with the last blast of spring-like temperatures, Thursday's highs won't be repeated on Friday, as temperatures drift back toward seasonal values for the weekend and strong winds blast into the region.

A sharp arctic cold front will be to blame for the dropping temperatures, and will accompany powerful wind gusts, which could reach between 85 to 90 km/h in a couple localities, including the City of Toronto. 

Throughout the southern Ontario region wind gusts will range from 60 to 80 km/h, and could strengthen along lake shores up to 90 km/h, which is strong enough to cause minor tree damage and local power outages. The winds will shift to a westerly direction by Friday morning, but may stay strong for much of the day. 

"With these winds, bands of lake-effect snow squalls will will develop in the snowbelts southeast of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay on Friday and these bands will extend into parts of the GTA at times," Gillham says. "Travel through the snowbelts will be difficult as the strong wind gusts will cause extensive blowing and drifting snow."


As this next round of precipitation threatens southern Ontario with more icy conditions through Thursday, northern parts of the province are looking at a yet another fresh blanket of snow. Combine that with strong, gusty winds and travel will be next to impossible for much of the day.

The snow spread into in northwestern Ontario during the overnight hours on Wednesday, and will continue through much of the day on Thursday before clearing out Friday morning. In northeastern regions, the snow will pick up Thursday morning with the heaviest time frame for accumulations being Thursday afternoon and into the overnight. 

"We'll likely see a heavy swath of 20-40 cm of snow through areas north and east of Lake Superior," warns Matt Grinter, another meteorologist at The Weather Network. "Sault Ste. Marie will approach 15 cm, but switches to a bit of ice pellets and even freezing rain." 

By the end of Thursday, ice pellets and freezing rain will have pushed into the Nickel Belt, Sudbury and North Bay regions as well with sections of central Ontario, which could see prolonged icy conditions. 

"Current information suggests 5 to 10 mm of freezing rain is possible which could result in broken tree branches and local power outages," warns Environment Canada.


While the groundhog jury is out on an early spring, forecasters of the human variety expect a colder-than-normal pattern to once again dominate starting in mid-February and continuing through the first two weeks of March.

"We know that there will be an abundance of frigid weather in Canada - the question is whether that will be focused across western Canada or will that return to the Great Lakes region during the second half of the month," adds Gillham. "This is somewhat reminiscent of early January when the global pattern argued for the flip in the pattern that occurred, but the models failed to see it until it was already starting to occur."

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