Cold, windy, messy weather marks first day of winter in Canada

The weather is treating Canadians to a taste of things to come on this first day of winter.
It's the first day of winter today, and the weather is treating Canadians to a taste of things to come on this busy travel day — frigid temperatures, snow, freezing rain, and gusty winds.

It's windy and rainy in southwest British Columbia as a system pushes onshore to the south. Though near average temperatures, Vancouverites may even see some flurries this afternoon mixed into the rain. Moving inland, the rest of southern B.C. will be seeing snow flurries and some accumulations of around 2cm or so in some areas.

The prairie provinces are under the influence of an Arctic High, giving them clear skies and calm winds, but very frigid temperatures. Highs across southern Alberta and Saskatchewan will creep no higher than -10C, with cities further to the north like Edmonton and Saskatoon struggling to climb above -20. Winnipeg joins in the frosty temperatures but gets a little snow to show for it as well, as a small disturbance moves through the area.

[ Related: Many Canadians likely in for another green Christmas ]

A large weather system that began tracking through the area on Thursday will continue to cause travel headaches across Ontario and Quebec today. While southern Ontario has seen mainly rain thus far, as the system pulls away to the east, cold air will flood down behind it and turn precipitation to snow this afternoon. The Toronto area can expect a few centimeters of snow, possibly mixed with freezing rain to make for slick roads Friday afternoon.

Messy roads and flight delays aside, Torontonians are getting off easy compared to points further north. Snow belt communities should expect closer to 10cm of snow, with the potential for much higher amounts if snow squalls set up as winds pick up Friday afternoon. Even further north, this storm has already dumped up to 40cm of snow on places like Sault Ste. Marie, and will continue adding to the total this afternoon and tonight.

Ottawa, Montreal, and Quebec City will face the brunt of this system today and tonight, with significant snow accumulation - in addition to the 15+ cm that have already fallen in Ottawa - along with the risk of freezing rain, ice pellets and blustery winds to reduce visibility even further.

[ Related: High speed camera to help report snowfall amounts ]

All in all, many of the busiest airports in the country are facing a very messy holiday travel day. Global News reports numerous cancellations out of Pearson already.

The large winter storm won't really move into the Maritime provinces until the weekend, and when it does most communities will see heavy rain rather than snow. Friday's weather along the east coast will be relatively calm with highs hovering near 0°C and mainly overcast skies.