Just when many Canadians started getting over the severe winter weather of the last days of 2013, more extreme wind chills have descended upon the prairies. Now eastern Canada looks to be in the sights of another ice storm.
Temperatures across Saskatchewan and Manitoba plunged into the -30s Celsius Saturday night, and frigid Arctic winds produced wind chill values down into the -40s across much of the area and even down to -50 or lower in some places. These extreme temperatures and wind chills have continued into today and are spreading into southeastern Alberta and northwestern Ontario. Warnings are in effect, advising of wind chills between -45 and -50 for today in Saskatchewan and Manitoba. The wind chills will stay below -40 from Alberta to northern Ontario into Monday, and for Manitoba and northern Ontario into Tuesday.
In the east, a storm working its way up from the United States has already started dumping a significant amount of snow over southern and eastern Ontario. As this storm progresses through the Great Lakes area and beyond, the snow will push northward and a swath of freezing rain is expected to pass through southern Ontario this evening, eastern Ontario and southern Quebec overnight, and into the Maritimes for Monday.
Freezing rain warnings are in effect from southwestern Ontario to New Brunswick, P.E.I. and western regions of Nova Scotia.
Environment Canada says that, at least for southern Ontario, this is not expected to be as severe as the ice storm that hit just before Christmas. However, for regions just north of Lake Erie and Lake Ontario, it should still deliver a brief shot of icy conditions this evening and switch over to rain around midnight. Conditions are expected to be worse in eastern Ontario and southern Quebec overnight, though, where several hours of freezing rain could fall before temperatures climb above zero on Monday morning.
The storm is expected to push into New Brunswick, P.E.I. and Nova Scotia overnight tonight and into Monday morning, with warnings advising residents of an "extended period of freezing rain," and that this could be a "potentially significant freezing rain event for New Brunswick on Monday." The storm has Newfoundland and Labrador in its sights as well, and Special Weather Statements have been called across the province warning of a mix of winter weather later on Monday and overnight into Tuesday. This is bound to worsen the conditions in Newfoundland, where close to 190,000 customers were without power on Saturday morning following a blizzard and a fire.
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The extreme chills in the prairies are expected to slowly improve over the week, as the blast of Arctic cold treks its way eastward. This means that regions hit by this latest shot of freezing rain can look forward to a plunge into the deep freeze right after. So even with the warmer rain following the icy conditions, it should all quickly turn into a sheet of ice as the cold front blasts through. This will bring more traffic and commuting woes and possibly more hardships for anyone that may lose power (again) due to the freezing rain. It's also expected to generate significant lake effect snow off Lake Huron, which could mean more booming frost quakes for regions around the Great Lakes.
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