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Snow surprise for southern Ontario

Alexandra Pope and Jill Colton, staff writers

February 7, 2011 — Saturday's heavy snowfall in southern Ontario and Quebec took forecasters by surprise.

Snowfall totals from Saturday.
Snowfall totals from Saturday.

Bursts of heavy snow swept across much of southern Ontario Saturday evening, taking even forecasters by surprise. Models showed a low pressure system was headed for the region on the heels of Wednesday's Groundhog Day storm, but they didn't indicate it would be packing quite so much snow, says Brian Dillon, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

“None of the models picked it up. It was a shock to everyone when people started calling in about the snow.”

According to Rob Davis, another meteorologist here at The Weather Network, it was a big shot of snow. “It was bigger than the Groundhog Day storm in a lot of ways. For London in particular, they had much higher totals than on Wednesday.”

The system is the same one that created dangerous conditions for Texans Saturday as they prepared for the Super Bowl. It's also the same low that swept through Atlantic Canada walloping the region with snow.

In total, 18 cm fell in Kitchener, 11 cm at Pearson Airport, and 22 cm at London Airport. Dorchester, east of London, had the highest snowfall: 25 cm.

According to Environment Canada, near whiteout conditions were observed on web cameras along the 401-403 corridor, and numerous accidents were reported to the Ontario Provincial Police in London.

As the low tracked eastward, parts of Quebec also saw fairly significant accumulations. Montreal's Dorval Airport saw 13 cm of snow, while Lennoxville received upwards of 27 cm.

Temperatures set to plunge well below freezing this week
Temperatures set to plunge well below freezing this week

“Saturday's system tracked a lot further north than initially anticipated and strong bands formed and they remained stationary over the region allowing for high snow totals,” explains Davis.

According to Environment Canada, the computer models suggested a more northward track by about 100 km.

A trough moved through on Sunday bringing a light dusting of snow to the Toronto area. Only a few additional centimetres of snow were recorded. Salt trucks were on the roads early Monday morning to ensure a safe drive to work.

Freezing drizzle that developed for areas in the southwest however, put drivers to the test on Monday. Environment Canada warned that untreated surfaces from Windsor to London could become icy and result in dangerous travel conditions for motorists and pedestrians.

As the trough moves out of the region, residents can expect a fairly clear, but chilly week ahead. Temperatures are set to plunge well below the freezing mark, feeling more like the -20's with the windchill.

To stay up-to-date on the weather in your area, be sure to check the Ontario Cities Index. You can also tune into The Weather Network on TV as the local forecast comes up every 10 minutes on the 10's.

With files from Andrea Stockton

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