Icy conditions in southern Quebec Monday made a simple walk outside a potentially dangerous excursion.

The temperature rose to 5 degrees Celsius overnight while heavy rain fell, and the rain continued into Monday morning.

Since the ground warmed up much slower than the air the falling water froze on contact, covering many sidewalks, streets, and front steps with ice.

Where it didn't freeze on contact, the rain created large puddles that began to ice over Monday afternoon as the mercury dropped rapidly. With the wind chill, the air is expected to feel as cold as -30 degrees Celsius overnight, and stay in the -20s for a few more days.

The city will do what it can to make sidewalks safe for pedestrians, said city spokesperson Jacques-Alain Lavallée, but cautioned it will take time until they are safe.

"We've got about 220 pieces of equipment that have been on the streets since precipitation started last night," he said. "The forecast calls for a drop of 20 degrees, so our people are ready. We're making sure that abrasives are put on sidewalks and streets... The emphasis is always on metro station entrances, bus stops, hospitals, schools, but also the main streets like Sherbrooke, Rene Levesque."

Significant amounts of water accumulated on streets and highways overnight, and police closed several exits and entrances on the Metropolitan until the water levels dropped.

Drivers are being warned to be extremely cautious throughout Monday, and some schools decided to cancel classes rather than have students risk leaving home.

Transport Quebec sent out hundreds of trucks to spread salt and abrasives on highways, but said the commute will still require caution.

Two Surete du Quebec officers were injured overnight when a driver slid into their squad car while they were patrolling near the Jacques Cartier Bridge.

As the cold front sweeps through, the rain will turn back to snow. Montreal will see about five centimetres of snow accumulation and up to 20 millimetres of freezing rain, said CTV Montreal's Lori Graham.

"Caution: this will be a major freezing rain event at the beginning of the first week back at work after the holidays. Roads and sidewalks could become very slippery," warned Environment Canada.

The temperature is going to drop to -17 C overnight.

Ice bringing down power lines, cancelling flights

The freezing rain also affected flights at Montreal's Trudeau airport, with more than 50 flights delayed or cancelled.

The worst of the freezing rainfall arrivals were affected Sunday night into early Monday morning. Trudeau airport suspended operations between 11 p.m. and 3 a.m.; flights expected to land in Montreal were diverted instead to Toronto.

At least four flights destined for Montreal were diverted to Fredericton, New Brunswick overnight, and passengers had to spend anywhere from six to 24 hours in the terminal in New Brunswick before boarding a flight to Montreal.

Flights in and out of Ottawa's International airport and Quebec City's Jean Lesage airport were also hampered by the weather.

Ice buildup on power lines and trees snapped power lines, putting about 33,000 homes and businesses across Quebec in the dark as the day began. .

Hydro Quebec reported that at 7 a.m. Monday more than 10,000 customers in the Mauricie area were without power, with another 4,000 affected in the Laurentians.

About 3,400 customers in Montreal were without electricity, along with 5,500 in Quebec City and the Eastern Townships, and several thousand in the Monteregie.