Winter's first day brings snow, icy temperatures
Published Saturday, December 20, 2008 11:27PM EST
From coast to coast, Canadians were bracing for icy temperatures and heavy snowfall as winter officially started on Sunday.
While areas in Ontario and Eastern Canada were facing heavy snowfall, Western Canada remained locked in a deep freeze, with sub-zero temperatures gripping areas like B.C.'s Lower Mainland, which usually enjoy mild winters.
In B.C.'s interior regions, officials issued frostbite warnings, and the cold snap was being blamed for the death of a woman in Abbotsford on Saturday.
"Snowfall warnings up and down the coast, blizzard warnings in areas where we expect strong winds such as parts of the lower Fraser Valley and north Vancouver Island," said meteorologist Greg Pearce.
Frigid air is also gripping the Prairies, leading to icy roads and a rash of car accidents.
Meanwhile, after a blast of winter that dumped as much as 30 centimetres of snow on parts of southwestern Ontario, the region will get a short reprieve before another storm hits early Sunday morning.
Environment Canada has put much of the region under a snowfall warning, an upgrade from its earlier winter storm watch, as a new system could dump another five to 15 centimetres of the white stuff on the region.
Toronto can expect increasing cloudiness Saturday night with a 60 per cent chance of flurries. The snow will start to fall heavily in the morning but end by noon. There will also be winds of 30 km/h, with gusts up to 60 km/h. Some flurries could occur Sunday evening.
Canada's largest city is continuing its extreme cold alert, which makes it possible to open up more emergency shelter space for homeless people.
In far southwest Ontario, the amount of snow expected varies, with accumulations of between five and 15 centimetres predicted. However, the winds will be stronger than in the Toronto region. Areas such as Simcoe, Delhi and Dunnville could see gusts of up to 90 km/h.
The snow will extend into eastern Ontario.
Unlike Friday's storm, this second system is expected to also wreak havoc across Quebec and the Maritimes.
Environment Canada has already put parts of Quebec, including Montreal, under a snowfall warning, with accumulations of 15 centimetres or more expected.
Toronto's Pearson International Airport, the country's busiest, will be scrambling to catch up on holiday flights today, after the storm forced the cancellation of more than 300 flights on Friday.
At least 50 Saturday flights are already cancelled or delayed. Many of those flights are being delayed because of weather-related problems at Chicago's O'Hare airport and the three major airports in the New York City area.
Friday's weather system dumped as much as 20 cm of snow throughout the GTA, and more in outlying areas.
The storm buried Hamilton under 30 centimetres of snow.
On Friday evening, CTV Toronto weather specialist Dave Devall said that Toronto had already received 21.4 centimetres of snow so far in December.
The normal snowfall total for Toronto is about 29.2 centimetres .
"With more storms on the way, we could see up to 80 centimetres of snow on the ground by the end of the month," Devall said.
With files from The Canadian Press