Winter storm brings freezing rain, ice pellets to southern Quebec

Large parts of Quebec were hit this weekend by the first major winter storm of 2020, which brought a cocktail of precipitation and strong winds.

As many as 32,000 Hydro clients were still without power Sunday evening, mostly in the Montérégie region.

"We are waiting for the wind to calm down, and we should be able to have a lot of people back on the grid as soon as that happens," Hydro spokesperson Cendrix Bouchard said earlier Sunday.

Both the City of Montreal and the province had warned people to stay off the roads if possible.

Driving remained treacherous around Quebec City throughout the day thanks to low visibility. A 55-kilometre stretch of Highway 20, between Lévis and Montmagny, was closed to traffic early Sunday morning due to the conditions.

Transports Québec spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun said visibility changes from one area to the next.

She said drivers should check the Quebec 511 website to check road conditions before leaving.

Dozens of departures and arrivals were either delayed or cancelled at Trudeau airport. A spokesperson recommended travellers check the status of their flight with their airline before making their way to the airport.

Weather conditions

The freezing rain warning ended just after 9 a.m. Sunday in the Montreal area.

Environment Canada meteorologist Simon Legault said in Montreal, the precipitation switched over from freezing rain to ice pellets faster than expected, covering streets and sidewalks with a buildup of powder.

Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC

"It feels like you're walking on a [sandy] beach," he said. "But under those pellets, there are some frozen areas on the ground. It's not that bad because you're not walking directly on the ice."

The ice pellets will turn into light snow as the morning goes on, then finally let up around mid-afternoon, he said.

In Sherbrooke, about 40 millimetres of rain fell starting Saturday before turning to snow.