A WHITE WASH FOR THE CAPITAL REGION
Winter’s wrath brings second blast of snow in a less than a week
Alexander Farinha, 6, didn’t let Thursday’s snowstorm get in the way of a good toboggan run at the Arboretum. As much as 26 centimetres fell around the region, making for a busy day of plowing and shovelling.
It came with cancelled flights, cars buried in piles of white and a whole lot of fodder for a snowball fight of epic proportions.
For the second time in less than a week, Ottawa was digging out Thursday after as much as 26 centimetres of fresh snow fell across the city.
The major winter storm, blamed for at least 16 deaths in the United States, dumped piles of snow from Windsor to Quebec City as it continued on a path to the Maritimes. A Toronto man in his 70s died Thursday after shovelling snow off his driveway.
The snow began falling in the Ottawa area about midnight Wednesday night, prompting Environment Canada to issue a snowfall warning for most of Thursday from Orléans to Kanata, and areas west and south of the city.
Richmond and Kemptville were covered with 27 centimetres of snow; the Gatineau Airport recorded 22 centimetres, states an Environment Canada report issued at 7 p.m. As much as 45 centimetres fell in Cornwall and 40 centimetres in Casselman.
The City of Ottawa issued an overnight parking ban between 1 and 7 a.m. to clear the roads for snowplows. People with on-street parking permits are exempt from the ban, but all other vehicles will be ticketed. The ban remains in effect until lifted by the city.
Roads were slippery during the Thursday morning and evening commute, although traffic was lighter than normal because of the Christmas holidays.
Unlike last Friday’s wet and heavy snowfall that dumped as much as 40 centimetres in some areas, followed by freezing rain, Thursday’s snow was powdery. High winds and blowing snow caused delays for land and air travellers.
The arrivals and departures board at the Ottawa Airport was glowing red and yellow, as at least 75 incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled or delayed due to the storm.
Hundreds of flights were also cancelled or delayed at airports around Toronto, Montreal, Fredericton and Halifax.
Flurries in Ottawa were forecasted to taper off late Thursday night to a mostly clear and sunny Friday before returning on Saturday. Still, travellers were urged to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport, as the storm continued to dump snow in southern Quebec, from the Outaouais to the Gaspé Peninsula. Environment Canada reported about 45 centimetres of snow in Montreal as of 3 p.m. Thursday.
Ottawa police responded to several cars in ditches throughout the morning, but reported no serious accidents.
Meanwhile, a multi-car pileup shut down a stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway near Montreal and provincial police had to use snowmobiles to access the closed portion of Hwy. 40.
Quebec provincial police also said many vehicles had skidded into snowy ditches in different parts of the province. “There were no serious injuries,” police Sgt. Martine Asselin said of the numerous Quebec road accidents. “We’re lucky.”
Mounds of snow also blanketed most of southern Ontario.
Ontario Provincial Police in Frontenac County reported several minor crashes on Hwy. 401 and urged travellers to stay put until plows had cleared snow from back roads and side streets.
It was the first major winter snowfall for many spots in southwestern and south-central Ontario.
Environment Canada reported 15 centimetres of snow at the Windsor Airport, 21 cm in Sarnia, 17 cm at the Hamilton’s John C. Munro airport, as much as 16 cm in Toronto, 30 cm at the Kingston Airport, 33 cm in Brockville and 19 cm in Pembroke.
The storm had already pounded the midsection of the U.S., spawning tornadoes in Alabama, dumping a record snowfall in Arkansas and lashing the Northeast with high winds, snow and sleet. It knocked out power to thousands of utility customers, primarily in Arkansas.
In Quebec, where the provincial utility had restored power to nearly all customers who were knocked off the grid by last week’s snowfall, thousands more were left without power in the latest storm.
In New Brunswick, blowing snow began falling midday Thursday in the southwest and eastern regions, with 25 cm or more expected.
Parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island also lay in the storm’s path, where winter storm watches or rainfall warnings had already been posted.
The greatest single-day snowfall record in Canada was in Tahtsa Lake, B.C. when 145 cm fell on Feb. 11, 1999, according to Environment Canada.