Region deals with major winter storm
Although snow fell all day, Ottawa residents seemed to cope well with a winter storm that caused whiteout conditions and lengthy travel delays across the province.
The forecast called for 15 to 20 centimetres of heavy snow, high winds and poor visibility. By 6 p.m., snowfall totals in many parts of the region were reaching the 15-centimetre mark.
- Ottawa - 12 centimetres
- Kingston - 14 centimetres
- Cornwall - 12 centimetres
- Ottawa Valley - eight centimetres
The storm, which is the largest one to hit the region this winter, will head to Atlantic Canada Wednesday evening.
"By about 10 o'clock or so tonight, everything will be off to the east," said CTV Ottawa weather specialist J.J. Clarke.
Fewer cars make for a good commute
While the winter storm had a major impact on travel in Ontario, commute times in Ottawa weren't too extreme.
Fewer vehicles were on the road, mostly because of school bus cancellations and people choosing to stay home.
While there weren't any serious collisions reported during the morning rush, a three-vehicle crash on the Queensway sent one woman to hospital with serious injuries Wednesday afternoon.
Authorities are asking motorists to give themselves extra time, drive carefully and leave plenty of space between vehicles.
Although the roads were generally good for motorists, some OC Transpo buses got stuck in the snow, causing some delays for passengers. ParaTranspo was running on essential service only.
School buses cancelled, but schools stay open
While school buses were cancelled, schools in Ottawa remained open.
School board officials say if roads aren't considered safe for school buses, transportation is cancelled.
However, schools generally remain open for those who can walk or get a ride in, unless police say no one should be on the roads.
Contrary to what a lot of people believe, the school board says keeping schools open has nothing to do with losing provincial funding grants.
Airport cancellations and delays
Meanwhile, many passengers at the Ottawa International Airport were forced to wait out the storm.
Dozens of flights to Toronto, Halifax, Montreal and the northeastern United States were cancelled on Wednesday. The airport also reported several delays due to inclement weather.
CTV Ottawa got an exclusive look Wednesday at how the snowplows clear the airport's three runways, which range in length from 10,000 to 3,500 feet.
The airport just bought seven new pieces of equipment to help ease operations during these kinds of storms. Each snowplow costs about $1 million.
"They can clear a runway in less than 15 minutes, whereas the old equipment would take us about 45 minutes. Hence less cancellations; happier airlines; happier customers," said Paul Benoit, president and CEO of the airport authority.
Ottawa paramedics are also warning people to be cautious while shoveling.
During the last major snowfall in December, paramedics responded to three separate calls to treat men who suffered heart attacks while they were outside shoveling.
Paramedics say residents should take it slow when it comes to shoveling and take frequent breaks. They remind residents that symptoms of a heart attack are:
- Shortness of breath
- Chest pain
Anyone who experiences any of those symptoms should call 911 immediately.
With a report from CTV Ottawa's Catherine Lathem and Norman Fetterley