Stay in if you can: Winter storm could bring 25-40 cm of snow, low visibility
Whether you plan to travel by plane, train or automobile in the coming days, you might want to think twice.
Airlines are warning passengers of disruptions across eastern Canada as a major snowstorm.
Environment Canada has issued a special weather warning for the Montreal area, forecasting anywhere between 20 and 40 cm of snowfall by the time the snowfall ends late Wednesday.
The warning affects all of southern Quebec, with the Gatineau and Montreal regions being the first to accumulate several centimetres of snow, said Environment Canada's Simon Legault.
“Wednesday morning, travel will be really complicated. In the Montreal area, we will have received about 25 centimetres of snow, in the Gatineau area maybe a little over 20," he said. “People are advised to use the road as little as possible. If you can work from home, or if you can postpone travel, it may be the best day of winter to do it.”
Montrealers can expect "heavy precipitation," snow accumulation, and blowing snow due to strong winds.
"Montreal is right in the bullseye for the heaviest amount of snow. We could be talking anywhere from 30 to 40 cm of snow, and with gusty winds that's why we have a winter storm watch in place and not just a snowfall warning," said CTV Weather Specialist Lori Graham.
The St. Lawrence Valley and Outaouais region could see as much as 30 to 40 cm of snowfall. The Charlevoix region could even see up to 50 centimetres of snow.
Air Canada issued a travel alert early for all its flights east of Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday, warning of heavy snow that will likely cause delays and could cause cancellations.
Those warnings came true Tuesday morning as flights to Boston, New York, and Toronto were cancelled en masse.
#WinterStorm Warning ⚠️ in effect #Snow expected to begin during the evening rush hour and intensify this evening & overnight.— Lori Graham (@LGrahamCTV) February 12, 2019
Strong #wind will cause blowing snow & near zero visibility at times on the roads. @CTVMontreal pic.twitter.com/0kOk1xmHzJ
Highway patrols ready
Transport Quebec said it is taking on more responsibility for the strategic arteries following the Highway 13 disaster two years ago.
Thousands of drivers were trapped in their cars overnight after some trucks because stuck on the highway.
Transport Quebec said it has put measures in place to ensure that situation is not revisited: they will use their 400 cameras to monitor what's going on - and trucks will be on the roads as soon as the first flakes fall until Thursday morning – they say even the managers will be on the road patrolling.
“The lessons of the past have been retained and every incident is analyzed by the transport ministry and this year what's new is that Highway 13 and most of the strategic roads of Montreal are under the direct responsibility of the transport ministry,” explained Transport Quebec spokesperson Gilles Payer.
The SQ says tow trucks will also be strategically placed on the roads, and they will have extra patrollers out.
“We will have staff, resources,” said SQ spokesperson Claude Denis. “You have to understand that the most collisions are due to drivers not to adapting their driving according to conditions, so we need the cooperation of drivers.”
Drivers need to remember to slow down considerably, keep a good braking distance behind the car ahead, ensure you're gassed up, and even have water and a snack in the car in case you get stuck somewhere – or preferably, leave the car at home.
Metropolis promises to be ready
With many people, including Mayor Valerie Plante, being critical of how snow clearing and removal has been conducted this year, the city is promising to do better.
"Absolutely, we are ready," said Plante.
"It's been a difficult winter. At the same time we want to make sure that all citizens feel safe to walk on sidewalks or use the roads. So yes, we are ready."
Executive Committee member Jean-Francois Parenteau said the city will have workers on the job immediately to clear roads, and they will start removing the snow on Thursday morning.
“All the team will be on the road as quick as possible after the snow start in the evening and we will prepare the road and everything,” he said.
Parenteau was also asked about whether blue collars will make it to work to plow the streets if their children are staying home due to the snow day Wednesday, because last storm some workers stayed home to care for their children.
“The blue collars will be there and for sure with the experience of the last week, they will be there to be on the job in time,” he said.
The opposition party at City Hall said there should be no excuses if the city is not ready, but it is worried about the thick layer of ice that remains on the ground in multiple locations.
So far, Montreal has experienced two major snowstorms, coupled with extreme cold.
After temperatures rose slightly, some areas dealt with flooding.
Opposition leader Lionel Perez said once the winter is over he would like to see an evaluation of how Montreal coped with snow removal.