Montrealers urged to stay home as snow covers already icy roads

Montrealers urged to stay home as snow covers already icy roads

​Montrealers are being asked to stay indoors today as a heavy snowfall covers roads and walkways that may already have a sheet of ice following freezing rain on Friday. 

Both Urgences-Santé — the Montreal area's public emergency service — and provincial police warned drivers of a potentially dangerous commute. 

Residents of Montreal and Laval should "avoid leaving their homes as much as possible," Urgences-Santé said in a statement. For those who must go outside, they're being urged to take extra precautions and drive slowly.

By 8 a.m. on Saturday paramedics had already received 274 calls, higher than normal. Montreal police are also dealing with a higher than average volume of calls.  

The Sûreté du Québec was reporting "perilous" road conditions in many parts of the province. 

Several dozen flights were delayed or cancelled outright because of weather conditions at Trudeau airport. Officials there expect the situation to return to normal by noon. 

The winter storm weather warning issued by Environment Canada has ended for the Montreal area but a new warning has been put out for extreme cold in the Laurentians. So far, 35 centimetres have fallen in Montreal. 

Temperatures will start to dip this afternoon as the snowfall gradually comes to a halt. A low of –23 C with windchill is expected by tonight.

​By the numbers

Montreal city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin said snow-clearing operations are well underway across the city. He gave a snapshot of what it takes to clear Montreal's streets:

- There are 1,000 snow-clearing engines buzzing around the city as we speak.

- They have 10,000 kilometres of concrete to cover — from streets to sidewalks. That's the equivalent of driving to Vancouver and back.

- 90 per cent of the city's previous snowfall has been removed. But employees are switching from removal mode (which is taking those piles and banks of snow off the streets) to plowing the fresh snowfall.

- Once the blizzard has let up, Sabourin says the city will need an extra eight hours to clear what's accumulated.