People living between southern Ontario and northern Nova Scotia were being urged to avoid non-essential travel as a winter storm carried a mix of snow, freezing rain and ice pellets through Eastern Canada.
Winter storm warnings were in place for parts of five provinces Tuesday, due to the combination of heavy precipitation and high winds in the forecast.
The storm began to hit southwestern Ontario early Tuesday morning. Temperatures there were expected to be just warm enough for the region to avoid the snowfall totals forecast for other parts of the province. Instead, a freezing rain warning was in place for the area, with Environment Canada forecasting up to six hours of freezing rain before the precipitation changes to rain.
The Colorado low was moving into the Greater Toronto Area by 8 a.m. All schools in Toronto and some surrounding communities were closed in anticipation of a difficult afternoon commute. Forecasts for that area called for up to 15 cm of snowfall by 6:30 p.m., with ice pellets and freezing rain possible during the late afternoon hours. Snow was expected to resume overnight, with total accumulation potentially reaching 25 cm.
Even more snow was in the forecast for Ottawa, where Environment Canada said between 30 and 40 cm could fall by Wednesday afternoon. Cold weather was also expected to be a significant factor in the capital, with an afternoon high of -11 C feeling more like -22 due to wind chill, creating the risk of frostbite.
Winter storm warnings also covered parts of northern Ontario including Sudbury and North Bay. Those areas were expected to see between 20 and 30 cm of snowfall starting around noon Tuesday.
Quebec and Atlantic Canada
Snow was expected to start falling in Montreal during the Tuesday afternoon commute, with 25 to 40 cm of accumulation expected by the end of Wednesday. Cold conditions were in the forecast, too, with Environment Canada forecasting wind chill values at or below -20 through the day Tuesday.
The storm system was on track to start dumping snow on the Maritimes Tuesday night. Between 20 and 40 cm of snow was in the forecast for Moncton, N.B., with the precipitation changing over to ice pellets and possible rain or freezing rain Wednesday afternoon. A similar forecast was issued for P.E.I., although snowfall totals there were not expected to exceed 30 cm.
The northern half of Nova Scotia was expected to see 15 to 25 cm of snow and ice pellet accumulation during the day Wednesday. The winter storm warning did not cover Halifax, although that city was expected to receive as much as 15 cm of snow along with ice pellets and significant winds.
Snow from the system was expected to start moving into Newfoundland and Labrador by Wednesday afternoon.
After the storm
Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CTV’s Your Morning Tuesday that another Colorado low was brewing and could arrive in Eastern Canada by the tail end of the weekend.
Despite that, he said, Canadians should have some reason for optimism that sunny skies may not be far out.
“The dead of winter is clearly behind us in all parts of Canada. There’s more winter behind us than ahead of us – but you can’t write the obituary on winter yet,” he said.
Phillips said longer-range forecasts suggest temperatures will start warming up in March, and perhaps stay warm enough to avoid a repeat of the April 2018 ice storm that left hundreds of thousands of people without power.
“We can see it coming to an end, but we have to be patient,” he said.
“I think we’re still several weeks away.”