Ontario’s ice and snow storm is followed by an insidious menace of freezing drizzle

Ontario's ice and snow storm is followed by an insidious menace of freezing drizzle

Ontario’s ice and snow storm is followed by an insidious menace of freezing drizzle

Travel conditions deteriorated quickly Wednesday night as a strong Colorado Low swept through southern Ontario, dropping bouts of heavy snow followed by freezing rain and ice pellets.

The frigid mix continued overnight, with about 10 to 20 inches of snow and ice reported in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA) before sunrise on Thursday. This prompted several schools across the region to be the first to pull buses, with school closures announced for the Halton board.

“Thursday morning commuters are particularly difficult to travel on dirt residential roads,” warns Rachel Modestino, meteorologist at The Weather Network.

The Toronto Transit Commission (TTC) suspended bus service at dozens of stops as of 5 p.m. Wednesday because of their “known icy hilltop hotspots.”

Those with air travel plans are also urged to plan and check ahead as there are some flight delays and cancellations due to ongoing storm conditions at Toronto’s Pearson Airport.

17.4 cm of snow was recorded at the airport, making Wednesday (22 February) the snowiest day of the year so far. That surpassed the 13.8 cm that fell on January 20.

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WATCH: Icy roads lead to cars in ditch in southern Ontario

Click here to watch the video

Highway 402 acted as a rough dividing line between snow and ice pellets to the north and a significant crust of ice from freezing rain along the highway and to the south.

Freezing rain quickly blanketed trees and power lines late Wednesday, with significant damage and outages reported along the shores of Lake Erie. The amount of ice accumulation varies with surface temperature, wind speed, and precipitation rates.

Hydro One reported that about 29,000 customers in southwestern Ontario were left without power due to the storm.

The widespread threat of freezing drizzle remains

Though the strong system is now making its way to Quebec and Atlantic Canada, the threat of freezing drizzle and light freezing remains in southern Ontario as temperatures hover below 0C on Thursday. A widespread frigid drizzle will cover the region.

“Surfaces such as highways, roads, sidewalks and parking lots can become icy and slippery,” says Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) in the advisory. “Freezing drizzle can create thin layers of ice that are difficult to see. Use extra caution when walking or driving in affected areas.”

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Heavy snowfall continues in eastern Ontario

Meanwhile, snow continues to affect parts of eastern Ontario, including the city of Ottawa.

“The storm’s bitterly cold air and high humidity have already produced 10 cm in Ottawa, with a potential 10 more to come,” Modestino said.

Baron - ON Extra Snow - Feb23.jpg

Baron – ON Extra Snow – Feb23.jpg

Exact measurements vary and are difficult to record due to their light and fluffy nature. Thursday morning commuters battle heavy snowfall and blowing snow later in the day. As a result, all school buses across Ottawa were canceled Thursday morning, although schools have opted to remain open.

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Behind the system until Friday there will be a classic lake effect snow build-up of 5-10 cm or locally higher.

Eyes for another chaotic Colorado low next week

Forecasters are eyeing another messy Colorado low to enter the Great Lakes region later Monday and next week’s Tuesday.

This storm is currently expected to bring significant snow, ice, and possibly some rain to the GTA and Niagara regions. Snow is expected primarily for areas north and east of the GTA, including Cottage Country and Eastern Ontario, with between 10 and 20cm and more possible in the hardest-hit areas.

Overall, changeable temperatures are expected in the first week of March, which should almost normalize. However, there is a possibility that a colder pattern will return in the second and third week of March.

WATCH: Ice-covered cars and tree branches as powerful Colorado low hits

Click here to watch the video

Visit The Weather Network for more updates and information on the impact of this winter storm on Ontario.


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