Significant freezing rain accumulation forecast as wild weather hits province

Residents of southern Quebec are urged to hunker down and wait out the wild weather cocktail that has descended upon the province.

Environment Canada has issued a freezing rain warning covering areas such as Beauce, the Eastern Townships, Lachute and Upper Gatineau.

In the Montreal region 25 millimetres of rain had fallen by late afternoon. Precipitation is expected to change to freezing rain in the region around 9 p.m.,in the lower Laurentians around 7 p.m. and in the Eastern Townships around midnight.

The precipitation should continue until Sunday morning. Environment Canada forecasts ice accumulations on the ground of 1 to 2 centimetres in Montreal, the lower Laurentians, central Quebec and Beauce.

The layer of ice may be thicker in Montérégie and the Eastern Townships, with 2 to 3 centimetres of accumulation forecast.

In a Facebook post Saturday afternoon, Quebec Premier François Legault asked people in the province to stay home if possible, given the outlook. 

Strong gusts of 60 to 70 km/h are expected on Sunday, putting tree limbs and power lines in peril.

The Outaouais, the Laurentians and the Lanaudière regions could also see significant amounts of snow and ice pellets.

Similar conditions are expected in much of southern Ontario and the Maritimes this weekend.

Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery, the weather agency says.

"If you need to move around during the weekend, it would be better to do it on Saturday than on Sunday," said Simon Legault, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.

"It's going to be slippery or really windy with blowing snow."

Public Safety Canada encourages everyone to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and a flashlight.

Eastern Townships on alert

In the Eastern Townships, officials from municipalities such as Sherbrooke, Coaticook and Magog are asking the public to have enough water and food on hand to last through Monday.

"We're asking people to be well prepared," said Danny Robitaille, head of Sherbrooke's risk management division. "And if they lack electricity, if they have family, I encourage them to go to the family."

Residents should have a prepared emergency supply kit to last up to 72 hours, he said. That kit should have at least two litres of water per person per day, non-perishable food, a manual can opener, utensils, a first-aid kit and more. 

A complete list of recommended supplies is available on the city's website.