Canada bracing for extreme cold, blizzards and freezing rain

Canada bracing for extreme cold, blizzards and freezing rain

Environment Canada issued warnings and particular weather statements on Thursday to every province and territory across Canada except Manitoba.

A person uses a shovel to clear snow from around a parked vehicle as snow falls in Vancouver, on Sunday, December 18, 2022. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck)A person uses a shovel to clear snow from around a parked vehicle as snow falls in Vancouver, Canada

A person uses a shovel to clear snow from around a parked vehicle as snow falls in Vancouver, Canada

The winter storm systems continue to bring snow, extreme cold, and blizzard conditions to most of Canada, heading into the busiest travel weekend of the year.

“There are two big storms and extreme cold in between,” meteorologist Kelsey McEwen said on CTV News Channel Thursday. “The top story is this weather bomb that will hit Ontario, Quebec, and Atlantic Canada.”

Ahead of the significant storms, Pearson International Airport in Toronto and Vancouver International Airport issued warnings to passengers to prepare for delays.

BRITISH COLUMBIA

Canada’s West Coast was buried by two snowstorms earlier this week that brought cities in B.C. to a standstill. Dave Phillips, Environment Canada’s senior climatologist, said Wednesday that the warmer coast had received more snow than it does in a year in less than three days.

And it’s not over yet.

“We’ve got a Pacific frontal system that will hit the B.C. Coast,” McEwen said. “Snowfall for Northern Vancouver Island later tonight for portions of the coastline, but it’s overnight tonight where we see that snow move in, and this is a heavy wet snow, 10 to 20, perhaps 25 centimetres, of snow forecasted.”

According to Environment Canada, parts of northern B.C. and outside of the Greater Vancouver Area are under extreme cold warnings. Metro Vancouver is under arctic outflow warnings, with intense wind chills expected in the -25 region, not seasonal for the typical milder coast.

More snow is expected for Vancouver Island and the lower B.C. mainland area, with Environment Canada issuing winter storm watches for most of the southern half of the province.

ONTARIO

A storm system is expected to roll into Ontario and Quebec later Thursday, bringing multiple weather types. Freezing rain will start in Southwestern Ontario until an arctic cold front drops the temperatures rapidly, an effect that meteorologists call a “weather bomb.”

“You need to take this storm seriously,” McEwen said.

“weather bomb” or “bomb cyclone” is how climatologists describe storm intensity when rapidly dropping central pressure is seen.

“Through the morning tomorrow (Friday), that cold air floods in; when this happens, rain flips over to snow,” McEwen said. “The flash freeze takes over, and the winds increase… we’ll likely see winds jumping up to that 70 to 100 kilometre an hour range.”

Environment Canada has put parts of Northern Ontario under a winter storm warning, with northeastern portions having a winter storm watch.

Total snowfall amounts are between 20 to 40 centimetres by Saturday for areas around Thunder Bay, with “near-blizzard” conditions affecting travel.

“Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve,” Environment Canada warns.

The southern areas of Ontario are under different warnings from Environment Canada, with the regions around Algonquin Park bracing for snowfall and winter storm warnings with 15 to 20 centimetres expected.

Western Ontario has been issued blizzard and winter storm warnings. Areas around Niagara are preparing for low visibility, with blowing snow and blizzard conditions expected. Rainfall warnings have been published in the Belleville region, predicting 20 to 30 millimetres of rain by midday Friday.

The Greater Toronto Area on Thursday is under a winter storm watch.

“Ottawa, you, in particular, could see significant snow… it’s less snow for the Toronto area because it does mix with rain,” McEwen said.

Strong winds are forecast for Friday morning in Ontario, Canada

Strong winds are forecast for Friday morning in Ontario, Canada

QUEBEC

Heading into Friday, the storm system bringing snow and cold air to Ontario will move to Quebec. Winter storm warnings and watches are in effect for the province Thursday.

Environment Canada put Metro Montreal under a particular weather statement.

“Overnight tonight, that rain-snow mix moves in across the lower Great Lakes, Eastern Ontario, and Southern Quebec,” McEwen said.

Northern parts of Quebec are expecting upwards of 20 to 40 centimetres of snow to fall, the Environment Canada website reads.

ATLANTIC CANADA

The storm in Ontario and Quebec on Friday will move to the Atlantic provinces through Saturday. New Brunswick, Nova Scotia, Newfoundland and Labrador, and P.E.I. are under unique weather statements for rainfall. One area in N.S. is under a warning for strong winds.

“The rain moves in through Friday. It’s a rain-freezing rain mix for Newfoundland, snow in Labrador, and begins to track its way out as we go through the day on Saturday,” McEwen said.

Strong winds reaching 110 kilometres per hour are expected Friday afternoon, with Canadians bracing for power outages and high tides throughout the weekend.

Atlantic Canada has seen two major winter storms this month, bringing snow and freezing rain to the east coast. This system is getting more rain and, for northern areas, snow and strong winds.

PRAIRIES

The whole province of Alberta is under extreme cold warnings issued by Environment Canada. The cold snap has stayed for the last few days as Canadians continue to “hunker down.”

Environment Canada issues extreme cold warnings when temperatures drop below -40 C.

“Risks are greater for young children, older adults, people with chronic illnesses, people working or exercising outdoors, and those without proper shelter,” the Environment Canada website reads. “Watch for cold-related symptoms: shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness, and colour change in fingers and toes.”

No other types of warnings, watches, or statements were issued for Alberta on Thursday.

Meanwhile, Canadians in Saskatchewan are batting extreme cold and, in parts of the province, blowing snow advisories as well.

“It’s feeling into the minus 50s for Southwest Saskatchewan this morning,” McEwan said.

Environment Canada has not issued any alerts for parts of Northeast Saskatchewan Thursday.

Manitoba is the only place in Canada where no alerts have been issued, but people are still dealing with wintery conditions.

“It is incredibly cold now in Manitoba, I know you’re not under the warning, but you’re still very cold. There are just specific criteria to warrant an extreme cold warning,” McEwan said.

Thursday morning, Winnipeg Richardson International Airport is reporting a temperature of -25 C.

TERRITORIES

Removed from the two storm systems burying Canada’s West and East coasts, the territories are under weather advisories for other winter conditions.

According to Environment Canada, most of Yukon is under extreme cold warnings, with Dawson and Mayo under fog advisories.

Portions of the North West Territories are under extreme cold warnings, with temperatures in the Yellowknife Region around -50 C.

Environment Canada has issued a blizzard warning in Nunavut around Hudson Bay, Arviat. 

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