After weeks with milder temperatures and a lack of any measurable snow, Friday's accumulations may catch some drivers off guard across southern Ontario. A winter weather travel advisory has been issued, warning of "hazardous winter driving conditions" and reduced visibility.
"Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery," says Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in the advisory.
It’s one of those tricky storms where marginal temperatures and the precise track of the storm are key to precipitation types and totals from one community to the next. A Colorado low tracking south of the border is what's responsible.
Across the Greater Toronto Area (GTA), precipitation started as rain on Thursday before a transition over to snow through the evening and overnight hours. It didn't take long for road conditions to quickly deteriorate, with more travel troubles expected through Friday.
However, it's Eastern Ontario that's the bullseye for the heaviest accumulations with this system, with winter storm warnings in effect there.
All school bus transportation within Ottawa was cancelled first thing Friday, though most schools did opt to remain open. The City of Ottawa issued a daytime winter parking ban from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. Friday as well, which it says might need to be extended depending on how much snow actually falls.
Before dawn Friday, around 5 cm of snow had already accumulated across much of the GTA and for sections of southwestern Ontario, with a few additional centimetres likely before it wraps up. While that’s certainly not much by January standards, it could be enough to challenge drivers on the roads.
Almost 15 cm was already reported in the Ottawa area, with a forecast total of 20-30 cm of snow possible by the end of the day on Friday.
"Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve," ECCC urged in its winter storm warning for the National Capital Region. "Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow."
WATCH: Mark Robinson reports from Ottawa as the capital braces for heavy snow
Over in cottage country, totals will range between 5-15 cm with lower totals in the west and higher totals in the east.
The system will move out of the province and into Quebec by Friday afternoon, with all snow departing with it by Friday evening.
Splashes of sunshine grace the weekend forecast, finally!
A much-needed spell of sunshine will arrive this weekend in the wake of the departing storm.
Temperatures will remain slightly below seasonal, though the joyful sunshine should lighten the mood enough to break the chill in the air. Daytime highs will quickly rebound into above-seasonal territory for much of next week.
An active pattern will continue next week and beyond, with a train of Colorado lows tracking into the region every couple of days. Milder temperatures suggest that rain is more likely for southern areas, but significant snows would be expected well north of each system’s track.
Stay tuned for the latest updates on conditions across Ontario.