Snow-powered Ontario winter storm leaves hefty cleanup in its wake
The first weekend in March certainly came in like a lion in southern Ontario with a potent winter storm hammering the region with significant snowfall and intense wind gusts.
The result was dangerous travel conditions, localized power outages, and flight delays and cancellations as high winds and heavy snowfall blanketed the region. Poor conditions will hang on into Saturday morning for the south and into the afternoon for eastern sections.
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Conditions will improve Saturday afternoon
For most of the south, the heaviest snowfall and gustiest winds lasted through the early morning hours on Saturday. During the height of the storm, snowfall rates of over 5 centimetres per hour were forecast, along with wind gusts of 60-70+ km/h. Thundersnow was also reported in many locales experiencing the most intense snowfall rates.
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The good news is the worst of it is over for the south including the Greater Toronto Area. Just a couple more centimetres of snow left to fall as the system departs Saturday morning for the GTA. However, snow will linger in eastern Ontario into the early afternoon, with an additional 10 cm forecast.
Residents are advised to still avoid travel whenever possible Saturday morning as snow continues to fall and road crews are still clearing surfaces. Unnecessary travel can risk the safety of motorists, first responders, and plow drivers trying to keep major thoroughfares clear.
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"Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions," Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) says in its winter storm warning for the area. "Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow."
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By the end of the storm, we’ll likely see a blanket of 20-30 cm of snow across much of southern Ontario. Lower totals are likely in the southwestern corners of the province where mixing and marginal temperatures helped to somewhat limit accumulations.
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Making a bad situation worse, temperatures hovering near the freezing mark made this a heavy, wet snowfall.
Gusty winds and the weight of this wet snow on trees and power lines brought localized power outages throughout the area, with Hydro One reporting more than 1,500 as of Saturday morning. Remain mindful of trees and tree branches that could fall during the storm.
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Shovelling up to 30 cm of snow is also a chore on its own, but the sheer weight of the snow will increase the challenge of the post-storm cleanup. Pay extra mind to the physical stress of shovelling heavy snow, taking care to stretch beforehand, shovel with safety in mind, and stop for frequent breaks.
Beyond this storm, temperatures will warm up a touch heading into the first weekend of March. Daytime highs approaching the mid-single digits will aid with cleanup efforts, though black ice will be a concern each night as lows drop below freezing.
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Prime ski conditions for March break
Below-seasonal temperatures will return for the second half of next week and through the following week, which is March break for most schools.
At this point, we don't expect frigid weather, but not very spring-like either, with temperatures a few degrees colder than seasonal.
Southern Ontario ski areas should be in great shape for March break.
Thumbnail courtesy of Jia Liu, taken in Mississauga, Ont.
Stay tuned to The Weather Network for the latest on this major storm hitting southern Ontario.