Sabtu, 14 Januari 2012

Major winter storm pounds U.S. cities

Major winter storm pounds U.S. cities

Major winter storm pounds U.S. cities

The winter storm that pummelled the Great Lakes over the weekend charged across Ottawa Sunday night, dumping about 20 centimetres of snow — with more significant accumulation expected through the day Monday. 

All school buses in the region were cancelled. Schools in Ontario, however, have remained open. All schools in the Western Quebec School Board were closed. 
Major winter storm pounds U.S. cities
Many parts of Ottawa and the surrounding region are expected to experience whiteout conditions Monday due to the volume of snow that will be falling. There were reports of a articulated buses stuck in the snow.Major winter storm pounds U.S. cities
"The snow will be heavy at times," said Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada's Ontario storm prediction centre. "It's a biggie," Mr. Kuhn said. "If you like snow, you're going to like this one." 

This will be a double-whammy for drivers, Mr. Kuhn said, because wind gusts of up to 60 kilometres per hour will whip up the snow, which will also compromise visibility.

"If you don't have to drive, put it off. It's going to take a long time to get anywhere," Mr. Kuhn said.

"The snow clearing crews can only clear so fast and they'll have trouble keeping up, to be perfectly honest, in my opinion."

Ottawa police echoed Mr. Kuhn's concerns, asking drivers to be cautious and to stay off the road if possible.

The forecast high is -3C, although Mr. Kuhn said he would be surprised if it got that warm.

"It's definitely a major storm. An earlier version produced 30 to 50 centimetres of snow in Sault St. Marie on the weekend."

Mr. Kuhn said the centre of the storm, which stretches from Northern Ontario down to Ohio, should be moving over Ottawa sometime in the afternoon.

The snowfall is caused by very cold air from the north clashing with warmer air moving up from Lake Erie, he said, a combination of systems that makes for what he called a "loaded gun."

"When this pattern does form, where we've got cold air to the north and warm air to the south, sooner or later something usually will happen," he said. "We've been watching this one for about four days."

Mr. Kuhn said Ottawa's snowfall will continue through tonight and should taper off by tomorrow morning.

However, it's apparent the season has just begun. Environment Canada said earlier this week that this winter is shaping up to be colder than recent ones and Mr. Kuhn said it looks like December is going to be a busy one for storms in Ontario.

"It's happened before and it will happen again. Heck, this is Canada. It's a variation of normal winter weather."

Across Canada it was much of the same. 

The entire downtown of St. John's, N.L., was plunged into darkness just before 8 p.m. ET Sunday after two days of harsh weather. With snow swirling in winds estimated at over 80 km/h, the only lights visible were the auxiliary lights at the port and a single car climbing Signal Hill.

On the opposite coast, milder temperatures and heavy rains were expected overnight Sunday and today following a weekend of snow, a combination that is threatening to cause significant flooding on Vancouver Island and in the Lower Mainland.

"It's really the worst kind of scenario when there are successive nasty storms like this - a snowstorm followed by a heavy rain storm," Environment Canada meteorologist David Jones said Sunday.

Overnight, about 10 millimetres to 20 millimetres of rain was expected to fall in Greater Victoria, with another 15 millimetres to 25 millimetres forecast for today. Winds are supposed to pick up overnight, reaching 60 to 80 km/h in the morning. And temperatures that had been hovering just above zero for the past few days will rise considerably; it should be 11 degrees by morning.

That means the snow that blanketed parts of the region will melt very quickly, which has prompted the B.C. Ministry of the Environment to issue a flood watch for central and southern Vancouver Island.

Things were little better in much of the rest of the country.

The forecast called for 10 to 20 centimetres of snowfall beginning Sunday night in the Montreal area, and brisk northeast winds were expected to blow that snow into the air, making driving dangerous and hampering visibility, according to Environment Canada.

In Toronto, today's forecast calls for more snow following this weekend's major snowstorm.
Major winter storm pounds U.S. cities
Residents woke up to more than 10 centimetres of powder Sunday and forecasters predicted rain and wet snow overnight with flurries this morning. Temperatures are predicted to fall to -3 C in the afternoon with a low of -6 C tonight.

As of Sunday night, there had been more than 600 collisions on Greater Toronto Area highways since midnight. Most of those were single-motor vehicle accidents, people careering into ditches or skidding into guardrails, OPP Constable Dave Woodford said.

No serious injuries were reported, he said.

Dozens of flights out of Pearson International Airport were delayed Sunday night.

The winter storm that pummelled the Great Lakes was expected to sweep over Ottawa Sunday night bringing with it piles of snow that is forecast to get higher throughout the day.

"The snow will be heavy at times right through Monday for a total snowfall amount of 30 to 40 cm by Monday night," said Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada's Ontario storm prediction centre.

"It's a biggie," Kuhn said Sunday night. "

Many parts of Ottawa and the surrounding region are expected to experience whiteout conditions today due to the volume of snow that will be falling.

- with files from Charles Mandel, National Post, Vancouver Sun, Ottawa Citizen and Victoria Times Colonist


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