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Southern Ontario hit with double weather whammy

Fresh snow in Mississauga
Fresh snow in Mississauga

Alexandra Pope, staff writer

March 6, 2011 — Chaos on the roads, tragedy on the water as messy system drenches southern Ontario.

Water levels and flood fears are elevated along the Grand River in Brantford
Water levels and flood fears are elevated along the Grand River in Brantford

Snowplows were out in full force on southern Ontario highways Sunday morning, but not before scores of cars collided or slid into the ditch on slick and snow-covered roads that just 12 hours before had been bare and lined with puddles.

The latest round of wild weather to hit the region came courtesy of a soggy system loaded with moisture from the Gulf of Mexico.

The rain started Friday, raising flood fears among conservation authorities.

Localized flooding was reported in London, and the potential for ice jam flooding is expected to remain high along the Grand River in Brantford over the coming days. The Canadian Coast Guard ship Griffon was expected to perform icebreaking on Lake Erie Sunday to minimize the risk of ice jam flooding at the mouth of the Grand River.

Meanwhile, the search for a young girl who fell into a fast-moving creek near Melbourne, Ont. yesterday continues. OPP underwater search units worked until dark Saturday night without success. Police say the cold and the extremely fast-moving water hampered their search efforts.

Officials say spring is a dangerous time to be walking or playing near bodies of water as water levels may already be elevated and weather conditions can change without warning.

Although less rain fell in southern Ontario than was initially anticipated, the rainfall was record-breaking in some places. Pearson Airport saw 23.2 mm of rain, breaking the old record set on March 5th, 1959. Hamilton also broke its March 5th record with 21.8 mm.

Flooded, then frozen in Windsor
Flooded, then frozen in Windsor

Sudden change to snow

A drop in temperature along a cold front associated with the system caused the rain to turn to snow late Saturday evening. Windsor and London each picked up 10 cm; Windsor got 11 cm.

Ottawa had 11 cm by 7 Sunday morning, and could pick up a couple more as another band of heavy snow pushes north and east.

The Canadian Automobile Association is reminding drivers that although spring is just around the corner, they shouldn't be so quick to forget their safe winter driving practices.

“Drivers really want to remember to slow down and drive according to those road conditions and the weather,” says Silvana Aceto. “I can't stress that enough.”

The system is now making its way into the Maritimes, and Ontarians will have a chance to dry out their boots before another messy system takes aim at the region on Wednesday.

With files from the London Free Press

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