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Southern Ontario back to business


Slippery sidewalks and roads in Hamilton on Groundhog Day
Slippery sidewalks and roads in Hamilton on Groundhog Day

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

February 3, 2011 — It's back to business in southern Ontario after Wednesday's snow day.

Snow totals for the 'Groundhog Day storm'
Snow totals for the 'Groundhog Day storm'

After heavy snow and strong winds brought the work week grinding to a halt Wednesday, it was back to business as usual in southern Ontario Thursday.

Students returned to class, highways throughout the region were bare and wet where before they were snow-covered, and flights in and out of Pearson Airport were mostly running on time. Some flights to Atlantic Canada were cancelled Thursday morning due to the lingering effects of the storm there.

Why wasn't there as much snow as predicted?

Early models for the Groundhog Day storm had predicted up to 40 cm of snow for parts of southern Ontario, but in reality, most places saw half that.

The reason is twofold, according to Mark Robinson, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.

First, a dry slot associated with the storm grew as the system crossed the lower Great Lakes, which gave some areas a break from the snow.

Second, the consistency of snow changes depending on wind and air temperature as it's falling, which affects the way it accumulates on the ground.

Strong winds made it difficult to get accurate snowfall totals in places like Toronto
Strong winds made it difficult to get accurate snowfall totals in places like Toronto

“The type of snow we saw was more crystalline and long as opposed to fluffy flakes, which tend to accumulate a bit more,” says Robinson. “It was essentially the same amount of water, but it tended to get packed down.”

Some of the heaviest snow fell along the Niagara Escarpment, with Thorold receiving 29 cm. Hamilton actually beat their record for most snow on February 2nd. The city received 20 centimetres of their eventual 28 cm storm total on Groundhog Day, beating the 1990 record of 13.8 cm.

Other communities that set new same-day snow records were Ottawa with 12.8 cm, Windsor with 14. 8 cm, and Pearson Airport with 12.8 cm - just slightly more than the 1953 record of 12.4 cm.

Some communities along the shores of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay also received significant snowfall - Kincardine received 32 cm, Thornbury 30 cm, and Balaclava, northeast of Owen Sound, 33 cm.

Strong winds made it difficult to get accurate snowfall totals in some places, including Burlington, Sarnia and Peterborough. Toronto received anywhere from 13 to 19 cm.

With files from the Canadian Press.

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