What you need to know about the holiday storm that hit eastern Ontario, western Quebec

Pedro Alvarez clear snow from a sidewalk in Brockville, Ont., on Sunday. (Lars Hagberg/CBC News - image credit)
Pedro Alvarez clear snow from a sidewalk in Brockville, Ont., on Sunday. (Lars Hagberg/CBC News - image credit)

Developments as of Monday morning:

  • The City of Ottawa lifted its declaration of a significant weather event, while the City of Kingston extended its own.

  • Police have reopened roads in Prince Edward County.

The wave of winter weather alerts that passed through Eastern Ontario starting Thursday evening and into Saturday night has ended.

With the storm having largely passed through the region, here is a list of things you need to know going into Christmas Day, including utility outages, road conditions and updates from municipalities.

Latest weather forecast

According to Environment Canada on Sunday morning, the storm which hit the region Thursday evening has largely dissipated, leaving a chance of flurries and some local blowing snow depending on where you live.

The agency said flurries and local blowing snow could continue in Ottawa right through Christmas Day. Wind gusts up to 60 km/h will make it feel like -17 C Sunday morning and -11 Sunday afternoon. Skies will be mainly cloudy but are expected to clear near midnight and temperatures will drop to -19 overnight.

Blizzard warnings that had been in place for Kingston, Ont., Brockville, Ont., and surrounding areas throughout Saturday had been lifted by Sunday morning.

Kingston declared a significant weather event Friday, and the designation remained in effect as of Monday morning.

Lake effect snow hit the region Saturday, leaving behind a white but messy Christmas.

Highways in the region

As of around 9 a.m. ET Sunday, Highway 417 from Ottawa to the Quebec border had been reopened in both directions.

That stretch of highway had been closed or partially closed since 11 a.m. Saturday after a three-vehicle collision.

A towing company operating in the area of Casselman, Ont., a village off the 417 southeast of Ottawa, had informed people that it couldn't provide immediate assistance due to dangerous whiteout conditions, said Geneviève Lajoie, the mayor of Casselman.

"The situation is dire right now," she said Saturday afternoon. "People should stay home."

Casselman declared a state of emergency Saturday evening and extended it Sunday to last until the roads are cleared.

Conditions on Highway 401 improved overnight Saturday. Shortly after 10 a.m. Sunday, OPP said the entire highway across eastern Ontario from the Quebec border to Quinte West had been reopened.

The OPP said in an update Sunday afternoon that although major highways had reopened, cleanup efforts were ongoing.

"We are not out of the woods yet," Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said in a video posted to Twitter. "As it gets dark, as the wind continues to blow, we're asking people to stay home and wait until the roads are completely plowed, cleared and salted."

Highway 401 from Northumberland County to the Quebec border had been off limits Saturday afternoon due to unsafe driving conditions, the OPP said.

From Friday night to Saturday morning, 35 vehicles were left in the ditch between Mallorytown, Ont., and Gananoque, Ont., because they couldn't be towed, OPP said.

OPP officers were staged at the Mallorytown ONroute station Saturday to help stranded motorists and recover stuck vehicles, police said in a tweet.

As of Saturday, more than 500 collisions had been reported in Ontario, including more than 250 in the eastern region, according to the OPP. There were also multiple crashes on Highway 416 and Highway 417.

Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press
Spencer Colby/The Canadian Press

As of late Saturday afternoon, one traffic fatality had been reported in Essex County near Windsor.

Roads in Prince Edward County reopened Monday morning. The OPP said major routes had been cleared but urged people to drive with caution as not all roadways had been plowed.

All roads in the county were closed by police Friday night and remained closed Saturday evening because of "zero visibility and poor road conditions," OPP said.

For updates on closures and reopenings, check the Ministry of Transportation's traffic account here.

Planes and trains

Hundreds of passengers were trapped on Via Rail trains between Windsor, Ont., and Québec City from Friday night into Saturday.

Shortly before 5 p.m. on Saturday, Via Rail said all passengers had reached their final destinations.

Justin Tang/The Canadian Press
Justin Tang/The Canadian Press

Nine trains had been immobilized Saturday due to extreme weather conditions, according Via Rail. Numerous passengers told CBC they were stuck onboard for up to 20 hours with few updates from staff.

Due to a derailment involving a CN Rail train, Via said all of its remaining trains scheduled to run between Ottawa and Toronto, and Montreal and Toronto would be cancelled on both Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. You can check the departures for Via Rail in case the storm affects travel times.

"From power outages to trees on the tracks and even a tree falling on a locomotive, conditions make it impossible to move some of our trains," a statement from Via Rail read.

Via Rail said passengers who were stuck on trains 55, 59, 69, 669, 79, 48, 54, 68 and 668 will be provided a full refund.

Some Sunday departures and arrivals out of the Ottawa airport have been delayed or cancelled, so make sure to check the airport's website before heading out the door.

WestJet cancelled 140 flights at five airports in Ontario and Quebec, affecting flights at Ottawa International Airport on Friday.

Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press
Sean Kilpatrick/The Canadian Press

Hydro outages

As of about 3 p.m. Sunday, Hydro-Québec was reporting more than 4,000 customers in the Outaouais experiencing outages, down from nearly 15,000 Saturday afternoon.

Hydro Ottawa, meanwhile, was reporting no outages throughout the day Sunday. Their crews had restored power to more than 100,000 customers from when the storm began Thursday night, a release said.

Utilities Kingston said it had restored power to its entire service area shortly after midnight Sunday.

More than 1,000 customers in eastern Ontario communities were still dealing with outages Sunday morning, according to Hydro One's outage map.

Municipal updates, parking bans

The City of Ottawa lifted its declaration of a significant weather event shortly after 12 p.m. Monday. The rare designation had been in place since Thursday.

Garbage and recycling collection is not expected to be impacted at this point.

A winter weather parking ban for Ottawa ended at 7 a.m. Saturday, though the city is asking people to stay off the roads as much as possible. The City of Gatineau has also lifted its overnight parking ban, though it too would like people not to park on the streets to let plows work.

The City of Kingston extended its own declaration of a significant weather event Monday. As of Monday morning, an overnight parking ban remained in place in Kingston.

The City of Ottawa said it has expanded its shelter services for people experiencing homelessness.

The hostel at 75 Nicholas St., the Jim Durrell Arena and the Dempsey Community Centre are open to anyone who needs to warm up during the weekend.

Outreach teams will also be working to make sure people have cold-weather gear and help connect them to shelters if they need.

Residents who see someone out in the elements that may need a place to stay are asked to call 311.

With the storm coinciding with the holidays, many other city programs and facilities would have been closed regardless on Sunday.