Ontario braces itself for an ugly mix of snow, ice and sleet
Ontario appears to be ending the week with a return to reality as nature reminds us that despite repeated spring-like temperatures, it’s still mid-winter.
A low-pressure system that swept north of the border brought warm and very windy conditions across much of southern Ontario on Wednesday.
However, things will turn in a hurry on Thursday and Friday when another system is hot on its heels, ushering in colder temperatures and a period of wintry precipitation.
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Ontario will stagger from vernal warmth on Wednesday to the risk of travel headaches through Thursday as this secondary storm system pushes into the province.
The system will arrive Thursday afternoon with snow, ice pellets and freezing rain covering much of the region. Icy conditions will become a problem in much of southern Ontario from Thursday night into early Friday morning. Snow will be the primary concern for people north of the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).
Beyond and south of the GTA, however, marginal temperatures in the atmosphere will result in a much more difficult setup as precipitation falls in the form of ice pellets and freezing rain. The greatest risk for ice pellets will be above and west of the GTA, covering communities like Kitchener and Guelph.
Farther south, there is just enough warm air above the surface to allow for a period of freezing rain. Most of the freezing rain will fall on the Niagara Escarpment and in south-eastern Ontario around Kingston.
Residents should prepare to wake up to a smooth start to Friday as the system heads east, temperatures drop and precipitation turns to snow.
Behind that system, too, temperatures temporarily plummet to below-freezing levels, making for a chilly start to the extended family day weekend.
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However, temperatures will quickly rise back above seasonal levels for the remainder of the weekend. Significantly colder weather will attempt to spread mid to late next week, but the very warm pattern over the eastern US will also attempt to resist. This should result in an active and restless pattern, with the potential for messy and potentially heavy impact on wintry systems.
A colder and more active pattern is expected to continue into early March.
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Be sure to check back often for the latest updates on the Ontario weather.