A powerful storm that originated in the United States on Christmas and left a path of destruction from the Gulf Coast to Maryland and New York state – killing at least 15 people – is sweeping across Eastern Canada, covering roads with a thick blanket of snow and creating havoc for travellers.
While the worst of the winter blast is over in Southern Ontario, Quebeckers are now in the storm's grip and the Maritimes are in its cross hairs. New Brunswick is already being battered.
Police in Montreal are warning motorists to stay off the roads if they don't have to venture outside, as strong winds whipped up snow and hampered visibility Thursday. Snow began falling in the region late Wednesday night and the storm isn't expected to taper off in Quebec until Friday. At Trudeau International Airport, flight cancellations and delays multiplied as the storm worsened. By midafternoon, few flights were arriving or departing on time.
In Laval, next to Montreal, bus service was cancelled and on a nearby highway, a 15-vehicle pileup closed the road for part of the day. No serious injuries were reported. With some roads impassable, Hydro-Quebec workers turned to snowmobiles and snowshoes to reach homes that were still without power because of a massive snowstorm last week, The Canadian Press reported. New outages were also surfacing.
Up to 50 centimetres of snow could fall over southwest Quebec by the time the storm is done, Environment Canada said, and winds could reach 90 kilometres an hour in some parts of the province, particularly near Île d'Orleans. The storm is expected to spread to the Gaspé Peninsula by Thursday evening.
Snow has started to the fall in southwestern New Brunswick and will likely spread across the province by Thursday night, Environment Canada said. The weather agency expected much of New Brunswick will get up to 40 cm of snow. The ferry that runs from Saint John to Digby, N.S., was cancelled for the day because storm warnings.
Blowing snow is making driving treacherous. Police in the province are warning drivers to slow down, while the New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization is asking people stay off the roads to give snowplows room to do their jobs, CBC reported.
In the southern part of the province, snow and ice pellets are expected to turn into rain Thursday night as temperatures warm. For Grand Manan Island, about 25 millimetres of rain is now predicted. The storm is also expected to deliver heavy rain to parts of Nova Scotia and about 15 cm of snow to Prince Edward Island.
Southern Ontarians can breathe a sigh of relief: The winter storm that blew into the province Wednesday has, for the most part, moved on, although it's still lingering in Eastern Ontario. Environment Canada expected snow to end in the Ottawa area later Thursday.
Highways and residential streets in many areas remained slick and slushy Thursday and scores of flight delays and cancellations continued for a third-straight day at Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the country's busiest airport.
The storm dumped more than 20 centimetres of snow on Kingston, Port Colborne and areas west of Ottawa, while downtown Toronto received about 15 cm, Environment Canada reported. For many communities in Southern Ontario, this was the first big snowfall of the season and conditions overnight were treacherous.
In the London region alone, the Ontario Provincial Police said more than 270 minor crashes had been reported since Boxing Day, The London Free Press reported. In one crash on Highway 401, a driver slammed into the back of a police cruiser parked on the shoulder of the highway. The officer, who was helping a motorist who had skidded into a ditch, wasn't injured, the newspaper said.