Winter storm hits Ottawa with 'significant snowfall' expected
A major winter storm rolled into Ottawa Wednesday evening, covering the roads with a fresh blanket of snow and disrupting travel by car, bus and airplane.
A snowfall warning is in effect, calling for 15 to 20 cm of snow and reduced visibility due to heavy snow over the next 24 hours.
"A Texas low will bring heavy snow to the area beginning late this afternoon. Heavy snow will taper off to flurries Thursday afternoon," Environment Canada said in a statement.
"There will be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas. Allow extra time to reach your destination. Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions."
The storm moved into Ottawa during the afternoon commute, and by 9 p.m. roads across the city were covered by several centimetres of snow. Police urged motorists to adjust their speed to the conditions and only travel if it's necessary.
Emergency crews responded to a call for a snowplow that rolled over into a ditch on Boundary Road at Hwy. 417 Wednesday evening. Firefighters extricated the trapped driver from the cab of the plow.
At the Ottawa Airport, several flights had been delayed or cancelled due to the snow in Ottawa and in Toronto, where 25 per cent of flights had been cancelled at Toronto's Pearson International Airport.
City of Ottawa officials say all available resources will be deployed to clear the snow during the storm.
"We have all of our staff out, so that's 577 pieces of equipment that are out on the road right now," Area Manager, Road Services Jake Gravelle told CTV News Ottawa.
Gravelle says the main focus during the evening and overnight hours will be on clearing and treating sidewalks, priority roads, and the winter cycling network.
The storm is part of a system that is expect to affect a large swath of the population between Windsor and Ottawa. The snowfall warning stretches from Cornwall-Morrisburg, through Brockville – Leeds and Grenville and Kingston.
The good news, Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CTV Morning Live, is that the precipitation will be limited to snow.
"We're not going to see any freezing rain or ice pellets or rain mixed with snow," he said. "It's all going to be the stuff that you shovel, plow and push."
Phillips said he doesn't expect Wednesday evening rush hour to be difficult, but Thursday morning will be a different story.
"Overnight, we'll probably see about 12 hours of heavy snow," he said. "The intensity's going to pick up quite quickly ... that means large accumulation and visibility that is quite restricted at times."
Ottawa has received about 42 cm of snow so far in January.
"This is something you've dealt with all winter," Phillips said. "You've had a lot more snow than you normally would get, and I would say that in the past this winter you've had maybe three or four storms that are very similar to this one."
Winter parking ban
A daytime winter parking ban will be in effect on Thursday between 10 a.m. and 7 p.m. across the city.
"These hours might be extended if additional time is needed to complete winter road operations," the city said in a news release.
During a winter parking ban, parking is not allowed on city streets so crews can plow more easily. Vehicles parked on the street may be ticketed and towed.
OC Transpo warns of delays
OC Transpo is warning passengers to allow extra time for their travels during the snowfall.
"The winter storm conditions may affect traffic across the city," the service tweeted.
The Ottawa International Airport says some flights are being affected by the weather in Ottawa and at other airports across the country.
As of 7 p.m., eight departures had been cancelled for Wednesday, with another seven flights cancelled on Thursday.
Snow ending Thursday afternoon
Snow at times heavy tonight. Amount 10 to 15 cm. Temperature rising to minus 5 C.
Snow ending Thursday afternoon then cloud. Amount 5 cm. Temperature steady near minus 4 C.
Environment Canada's forecast calls for sunshine on Friday, with a high of minus 6 C.
The outlook for the weekend calls for flurries on Saturday and Sunday.
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