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Messy system sweeps into Ontario, Quebec

It's going to be a wet and messy weekend across Ontario
It's going to be a wet and messy weekend across Ontario

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

March 4, 2011 — Rain, freezing rain and snow. No matter where you are in Ontario this weekend, you're bound to face some stormy weather.

Rainfall totals expected through Saturday
Rainfall totals expected through Saturday

A low pressure system from the U.S. is bringing a wet and messy weekend to much of Ontario.

“As the system moves in from the south it will start as patchy and mixed precipitation in some areas,” says Danya Vettese, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

The Ontario Provincial Police responded to 90 collisions in the western region after freezing rain helped to ice up the roads Friday morning. No major injuries were reported and police officials say it was a matter of driving too fast or following too closely in the poor conditions.

The risk for freezing rain will be brief as temperatures are set to rise above zero, resulting in a transition to rain throughout the day.

“The steadier rain will start to build in this afternoon, becoming even heavier through Saturday,” notes Vettese. The large system, drawing moisture from the Gulf of Mexico, will continue to affect the province right through the weekend.

With up to 50 mm of rain possible in some areas, Conservation Authorities are on high alert for the next few days. Ontarians are warned to stay away from fast moving rivers and creeks and to avoid any contact with lakes or bodies of water as the ice becomes unstable and water levels rise. A flood advisory for the Central Lake Ontario Conservation Authority was issued early Friday morning.

Heavy snow expected for areas to the north
Heavy snow expected for areas to the north

As the cold air begins to filter back in on Saturday night, many places will see the changeover from rain to snow.

“The Greater Toronto Area can expect to see around 5 cm of snow on Sunday, but heavier amounts are possible north of the city,” explains Vettese.

Environment Canada issued a winter storm watch for the Bruce Peninsula with the threat of heavy snow and freezing rain through the weekend.

On Wednesday, an isolated but intense snow squall streamed off Georgian Bay, triggering highway closures, multi-vehicle pile-ups and visibility issues in and around the city of Barrie. The snow blew as far south as the city of Vaughan, just north of Toronto.

Officials advise a refresher on winter driving

As winter and spring continue to vye for control of the weather over the coming weeks, the Canadian Automobile Association is reminding drivers to pay attention to conditions and adjust their driving accordingly.

“Drivers really want to remember to slow down and drive according to those road conditions and the weather. I can’t stress that enough,” says Silvana Aceto.

“Drivers always need to remember that whether it’s snowing, whether it’s freezing rain, or heavy rain, to really slow down out there on the road.”

Another sign that spring is near is the fluctuating temperatures. The battle between cold and warm air combined with moisture from a messy system like this is the perfect recipe for potholes to pop up. City crews in Toronto are urging motorists to report any craters by calling 311.

To stay up-to-date on the weather in your area, be sure to check your local forecast. You can also receive warnings and alerts to your cell phone when the stormy weather hits.

With files from Lyndsay Morrison

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