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Wednesday's storm in perspective

Significant storm blasts eastern Canada
Significant storm blasts eastern Canada

Andrea Stockton, staff writer

February 3, 2011 — Some Canadians expected a little more from Wednesday's storm, but as The Weather Network's meteorologist Chris Scott explains, it was still a storm of significance.

Snowfall totals across southern Ontario
Snowfall totals across southern Ontario

A significant winter storm that blasted much of eastern Canada Wednesday was the first in years to bring intense widespread snow.

“This storm delivered a wide swath of 15 cm of snow or so right from Windsor, Ontario to St. John's, Newfoundland, amounts close to 40 in Halifax and localized amounts close to 30 cm in southern Ontario,” says Chris Scott, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

Stormy weather like that tends to fascinate and bind people together. And although it was a significant system that swept through, some Canadians felt a little cheated by the results.

“I think when people hear some of the media attention that's being paid to a storm in the U.S. that spills over into Canada and the story gets exaggerated a little bit. So I think there was some perception out there that this was going to be some historic storm that was going to be the storm of the decade or even worse than that. That wasn't the case and it really fit with our expectations of what this storm was,” explains Scott.

He adds that meteorologists at The Weather Network were calling it an exceptional storm for the U.S., and it was indeed one of the worst storms ever to hit Chicago with over 50 cm of snow and blizzard conditions. But in Canada, “we called it a significant winter storm, but still something we do expect. We've just had a couple of light winters recently in southern Ontario,” notes Scott.

Heavy snow piles up in Amherst, NS
Heavy snow piles up in Amherst, NS

The warnings issued ahead of the storm, in the Greater Toronto Area in particular, were crucial and enabled city crews to get a handle on everything. Several people stayed home and some school boards shut down, which Scott says were good decisions overall. While some people felt they could have made it in to work just fine, that's when there's usually a disaster on the roads.

“What were to happen if say a storm of say 10 cm or even 9 cm comes in, well probably everyone goes to work, everyone goes to school and actually the commute in those situations is so much worse because there are so many people on the roads trying to get places,” notes Scott.

Wednesday's storm wasn't the only thing fighting for media attention, groundhogs across the country were making their predictions for the arrival of spring. Ontario's Wiarton Willie, Nova Scotia's Shubenacadie Sam and New Brunswick's Oromocto Ollie all suggested an early spring, but eastern Canadians shouldn't hold their breath.

“We're definitely not done with winter yet across eastern Canada,” says Scott. “If you remember three winters ago we saw significant snowstorms into March in southern Ontario into Quebec and Atlantic Canada, so it's not over yet.”

Keep up-to-date on your forecast by checking out The Weather Network on TV where the National forecast comes up at the top and bottom of every hour. You can also click our Canadian Cities Index.

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