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Southern Ontario facing midweek washout

Messy mix expected for much of the region
Messy mix expected for much of the region

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

March 9, 2011 — Southern Ontario could feel like a weather battleground Wednesday as snow and rain move through the region.

Snow changes to rain as system moves east
Snow changes to rain as system moves east

A messy system that moved into southern Ontario Wednesday is bringing both rain and snow to the region. The only question is how much, and when.

Forecasting this system is proving to be a headache for meteorologists at The Weather Network, but people living in southern Ontario should count on seeing some combination of rain, snow and freezing rain depending on where they live.

In southwestern Ontario, including Windsor and London, the storm is expected to be mainly a rain event, with up to 35 mm possible by the time all is said and done.

In south-central Ontario, including the Greater Toronto Area, the precipitation began as snow late Wednesday morning. Downtown Toronto could see 2-5 cm of snow; Pearson Airport could see 5-10. The northern GTA and Barrie could see around 10 cm, while Hamilton and Niagara will most likely see less than 5 cm. At some point on Wednesday afternoon, the snow will change to rain, but that's where it gets fuzzy, says Weather Network meteorologist Rob Davis.

“The biggest question is when does that switch from rain to snow happen, and it's going to be a different answer depending on where you are in the GTA.”

Areas near the lakeshore will likely see a quicker switch to rain than areas away from the lakes at higher elevations. The changeover will likely have occurred everywhere by Wednesday evening -- good news for commuters, Davis says.

“Any snow that does accumulate will become slushy or be totally washed away.”.

Unfortunately, areas north and east of Lake Ontario are in for a wintery wallop with this system. Up to 20 cm of snow is expected for Peterborough and Kingston starting Wednesday evening, with the changeover to rain occurring around lunchtime on Thursday, while Ottawa and Montreal could see up to 30 cm of snow before the rain hits.

This system is going to take its time moving out of the region.

Scattered light precipitation is likely throughout the region on Friday before another low moves in Saturday evening -- “Temperatures will dictate what's falling,” Davis says.

Fluctuating temperatures and mixed precipitation are signs that spring is starting to gain a foothold in the region. But with that transition comes new safety hazards, including unstable ice surfaces and elevated water levels.

Snow melt and rainfall can also increase and speed up the flow of water in watercourses throughout the region.

Over the weekend, an eight year old girl was swept away by a fast moving creek near her home in Melbourne. Ontario Provincial Police are reminding everyone to keep away from all waterways.

Be sure to tune in to The Weather Network on TV to keep up to date on all of the details of this storm. You can also check your forecast by checking our Ontario cities index.

With files from Matt Casey and Andrea Stockton

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