Andrea Stockton, staff writer
March 25, 2011 — Parts of Ontario enjoyed mild temperatures and sunny skies late last week, but winter definitely won the recent battle with the spring season.
A storm system that originated south of the border triggered severe weather in the American Ohio Valley states. In the Prairie provinces, the result was a fierce snowstorm that lead to deadly conditions on the roads earlier this week.
That same low pressure system continued to track east into southern Ontario on Tuesday night. It started out as rain for areas in the southwest, but by the early morning hours on Wednesday, several places were dealing with freezing rain and snow.
Drivers faced a treacherous commute. Between snow covered highways and strong winds, which lead to whiteout conditions on the roads, police and emergency officials responded to hundreds of vehicle collisions. The blustery weather was enough for some schools in the province to close their doors for the day as well.
Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for regions from southern Lake Huron through to the Niagara area. Communities including Cambridge, Waterloo and Mississauga picked up over 20 cm of snow by late Wednesday.
Although places west of Toronto took the biggest hit with this storm, the city still managed to break a record of its own. The greatest snowfall at Toronto's Pearson International Airport for March 23 was back in 1974 when 4.3 cm fell. By the evening hours on Wednesday, Pearson had already seen over 10 cm.
As a result, air travel was affected. Passengers eager to escape the wintery conditions faced several flight delays and cancellations throughout the day.
Conditions improved significantly on Thursday, but some drivers continued to deal with icy roads for the morning commute.
“The snow may have moved out, but the region will stay cold for the next several days,” says Rob Davis, a meteorologist at The Weather Network. “High pressure will keep the stormy weather stateside and Ontario will be left with mainly sunny skies and below seasonal temperatures.”
Davis adds that temperatures will be between 5 and 10 degrees below seasonal right through the weekend.
Earlier this week, the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA) encouraged drivers in Ontario to keep their snow tires on, despite the recent warm up and transition to the spring season. Silvana Aceto with CAA says April is usually a good benchmark for when to begin spring maintenance on your vehicle.
”Typically we have to get through the first week of April in southern Ontario to say we've really cleared the threat of significant snow,” says Chris Scott, another meteorologist at The Weather Network. “Some years we have seen snow later than that, but typically in a place like Toronto, if you can get by April 10th and 15th, you've pretty much said, ok, spring is here and we're done!”
On April 2 and 3 in 2005, Toronto got over 15 cm of snow.
For all of the updates in your region tune into The Weather Network on TV where your local forecast comes up every ten minutes on the tens.
Motorists are also urged to check the Highway Conditions before hitting the road.
With files from Lyndsay Morrison