Snow and ice hit parts of Ontario as a wet storm sweeps through
Widespread freezing rain warnings were issued early Thursday morning for a spring-like system accompanied by freezing threats.
Cold air, present prior to the system’s arrival, allowed precipitation to begin as freezing rain early Thursday. A few hours of ice accumulation could affect travel for some before warmer temperatures prevail and precipitation turns to simple rain.
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Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issued freezing rain warnings for communities including Barrie, Owen Sound, Milton and Orangeville in anticipation of several hours of ice formation early Thursday morning.
“Surfaces such as highways, roads, sidewalks and parking lots can become icy and slippery,” ECCC said in its alert.
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A warm front coming from the south will bring temperatures above freezing for the entire area, which means that precipitation may turn to rain in the late morning hours.
Places where cold air lingers the longest, including steeps like Dundalk and Orangeville, can experience up to 5mm of ice build-up from freezing rain.
Farther north towards the National Capital Region, precipitation will arrive in the form of a wintry mix early Thursday afternoon before turning to freezing rain.
“A longer period of freezing rain is expected for the Ottawa River Valley,” advises ECCC in its freezing rain warning for Ottawa.
Warmer temperatures from the south will allow freezing rain to turn to regular rain by Thursday night. Widespread precipitation totals of 15-25mm are likely on Thursday, which could cause localized flooding in places with poor drainage.
Rainfall ends Thursday overnight in southwestern Ontario and continues through the first half of Friday morning in eastern Ontario.
Colder air in the north will allow snow to accumulate through the Nickel Belt and parts of Cottage Country. The heaviest snow swaths will slice through Sudbury where 5-15cm of snow is possible through Friday morning.
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It’s not just precipitation that we need to watch out for. Gusty winds associated with this low pressure area will bring stormy conditions throughout southern Ontario throughout Thursday. Some areas, including the Niagara region, could see gusts of 70 to 90 km/h on Thursday.
The combination of gusty winds and the weight of ice accumulation could cause power outages and fallen branches.
Additionally, we could see some convection in parts of southern Ontario as the cold front penetrates. There won’t be enough lift for thunder, but there might be just enough to mix some gustier winds to the surface north of Lake Erie, creating a risk for localized damaging wind gusts.
Mild weather gains as we move further through February
Temperatures will recover closer to the season by Saturday, with much warmer conditions arriving by Sunday. These above-seasonal conditions will continue into next week when we could see daily highs more typical of March and April.
Conditions will also remain choppy at times, meaning there is more risk of rain with this milder pattern.
With the Family Day extended weekend in mind, a few days of colder weather are possible. Forecasters are eyeing the potential for a more wintry pattern to take hold in the last week of February and into early March.
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Catch up on the latest weather updates across Ontario this week.