December 30, 2011 — A system brought snow and rain to Ontario and Quebec Tuesday. Now, both provinces are dealing with icy conditions on roadways and sidewalks.
People in parts of Ontario and Quebec got their first significant taste of winter on Tuesday.
A low pressure system from the United States swept across the provinces, bringing a combination of rain and snow to most places.
In many parts of Ontario, there was enough cold air for the precipitation to fall as snow alone. That resulted in many people getting out the shovels and snowblowers for the first time this season.
“The Greater Toronto Area got its first noteworthy amount of snow, and some accumulated,” says Rob Davis, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
2 cm of snow fell at Pearson International and 4 cm was recorded at Buttonville Airport. 15 cm fell in North Bay, Ontario and 6 cm accumulated in London. The city of Ottawa recorded 5 cm of snow, while the mild temperatures kept the precipitation as rain in Montreal.
“The temperature forecast was the trickiest part of this system,” explains Davis. “In Montreal, they ended up leaning just on the warmer side by a degree. So instead of 0°C and wet snow, we ended up with 2°C and a completely rain event for the city.”
By Wednesday, cold air behind the system had lead to icy conditions. Many drivers in southern Ontario had to contend with black ice on bridges and on-ramps during the Wednesday morning commute, while pedestrians coped with slippery sidewalks.
More than 40 accidents were reported in the Peterborough area alone.
In Quebec, slick conditions may have been parly to blame for a bizarre crash that killed a Montreal couple. The pair appear to have lost control of their vehicle and flipped over an interchange, landing on the train tracks below, where the vehicle was hit by a passenger train.
“The winds have ushered in much colder air, and that's led to freezing,” explains Davis. “The cold air will be sticking around throughout the day. Windchills will be feeling into the minus teens in southern Ontario, and the minus thirties further north.”
At Pearson International Airport, a handful of morning flights were delayed. Thousands across the province were also dealing with power outages.
The system has now pushed out of southern Ontario and is affecting Atlantic Canada. But the cold is lingering, and light snow means emergency responders are still dealing with plenty of accidents.
As of Friday morning, the mixture of rain with freezing rain made for a slippery commute in and around the Greater Toronto Area. Numerous accidents were reports, with many cars either spinning out of control or ending up in ditches.
“These conditions can change very quickly and show how prepared we have to be for the worst-case scenario,” said OPP officer, Peter Leon.
There were also delays and overnight flight cancellations at Pearson International Airport. Flights to Detroit, Montreal and New York were cancelled among other cities. Travellers are being advised to check the status of their flights before heading to the airport.
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Be sure to check your local highway conditions before heading out on the roads.