Tricky winter storm brings risky travel to parts of Ontario

Tricky winter storm brings risky travel to parts of Ontario
Tricky winter storm brings risky travel to parts of Ontario

A winter storm creeping into Ontario on Thursday and Friday will bring a little bit of everything to the province to end the week.

We’ll see a messy mix of rain, snow, freezing rain, and ice pellets spread across Ontario through the day Thursday before a widespread changeover to snow to start on Friday.

This wintry grab-bag will lead to slick roads and periods of risky travel across the region.

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This Colorado low system will start pushing into southern Ontario through the morning hours on Thursday, rain first arrived in far southwestern Ontario before dawn and a mix of ice, snow and rain will be spreading across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) through the morning commute.

ON early precipitation Jan 19 2023
ON early precipitation Jan 19 2023

The wintry mix will push north and east of the GTA around lunchtime, spreading over the region through the remaining afternoon hours.

Easterly winds off Lake Ontario will keep Toronto proper right around that critical freezing mark, with the region teetering on the line between plain old rain and a wintry mix. Precipitation should remain as rain along the QEW between Toronto and Hamilton.

ON afternoon precipitation Jan 19 2023
ON afternoon precipitation Jan 19 2023

North and west of the GTA, however, we’ll see an extended period of icing from freezing rain and ice pellets through Thursday afternoon. The best chance for ice accretion will fall over the higher elevations of southern Ontario, inland from the lakes.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) has issued several freezing rain warnings for southern Ontario and urges caution when traveling as even a thin glaze of ice can make roads, sidewalks, driveways, and stairs extremely slippery.

ECCC warns that there may be a "significant impact to rush hour traffic in urban areas."

Many of the same areas will see accumulating ice pellets, as well, with heavier totals possible west of Milton and Oakville.

Precipitation will reach eastern Ontario by Thursday evening, falling as mainly snow north of Lake Ontario, around the National Capital Region and west into cottage country.

ON freezing rain Jan 19 2023
ON freezing rain Jan 19 2023

Shifting winds behind the system will allow for periods of snow to cover much of southern and eastern Ontario overnight Thursday into Friday morning. This snow will reach widespread across the region, bringing a few centimetres of accumulation by Friday morning with just flurries along the lakeshore of the GTA.

The greatest snow totals are likely in eastern Ontario, where 5-10+ cm of snow could fall Thursday through Friday. We’ll generally see totals of 5 cm or less toward the GTA.

ONSnow Jan 19 2023
ONSnow Jan 19 2023

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For the final week of January and early February, it looks like the region will be the battleground between much colder weather to the west versus mild weather to the south and east. This should result in changeable temperatures, including the potential for several days of rather cold weather later next week.

This also sets the stage for an active storm track across the region, with messy systems that will bring heavy snow, ice and possibly rain.

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Check back in with The Weather Network for the latest forecasts across Ontario.