Canada's weather weekend includes storms, freezing rain, extreme cold

It's a weather mess for many Canadians as the holiday season comes to a close. Much of the country is under deep freeze warnings while winter storms with heavy snow or freezing rain are affecting other regions.

Warnings include winter storm in Vancouver, extreme cold in Winnipeg, freezing rain in Montreal

Weather warnings include winter storm in Vancouver, extreme cold in Winnipeg, freezing rain in Montreal 2:10

Heavy snow? Freezing rain? Extreme cold? You can pick your poison in Canada this weekend, as winter brings a wide variety of poor weather from coast to coast.

A winter storm in Vancouver, extreme cold in Winnipeg and a messy few days in Newfoundland are among the warnings, watches and special statements currently issued by Environment Canada.

Here's a breakdown by region:

Winter storm warning in British Columbia

B.C. residents are bracing for their first blast of winter of the new year.

Much of B.C.'s coast including Vancouver is being warned of a major winter storm. 

Environment Canada says an Arctic air mass from over the Yukon will bring rain and snow to the province, starting Saturday night across inland and east Vancouver Island and across the rest of the South Coast tomorrow morning.

"Total snowfall accumulation will range from just a few centimetres near the coast to near 20 centimetres over higher terrain and for inland areas," the warning says. "The snow will change to heavy rain late Sunday as warm Pacific air invades the region."

There's also a risk of freezing rain over the eastern Fraser Valley on Sunday, the forecaster said.

Extreme cold warnings in Alberta, Saskatchewan, Manitoba, northern Ontario

Environment Canada has extended an extreme cold warning to most of Alberta. The warning, which originally covered areas around Lloydminster, St. Paul, Cold Lake and Coronation, was expanded Saturday evening to include most of the central and northern parts of Alberta. The area includes Edmonton, Red Deer and Fort McMurray. The City of Edmonton activated a seasonal parking ban  Saturday night after a storm that covered roads and sidewalks late Thursday.

Wind chill values ranging from –40 C to –48 C are forecast or already happening in much of Saskatchewan, Manitoba and northern Ontario.

"Plummeting temperatures and gusty winds will bring extreme wind chills of – 40 C this morning as well as locally poor visibilities in blowing snow," the warning for Winnipeg says.

In Winnipeg, snow plows were hitting main streets on Saturday after the city saw between 10 and 15 centimetres of snow fall on Friday.

There is also a snowfall warning in effect for the areas of northern Ontario bordering Minnesota and Lake Superior, with up to 20 centimetres possible.

Freezing rain warning in southern Ontario

An area in southern Ontario that includes the Bruce Peninsula, Sarnia, Peterborough and Niagara Falls is under a freezing rain warning.

The forecast looks worst from Owen Sound to Barrie, with 10 centimetres of snow followed by 2 to 4 millimetres of ice.

Toronto gets off relatively easy, with up to 5 centimetres of snow and a short period of freezing rain possible. That will be followed by up to 25 millimetres of rain.

Currently, freezing rain warnings are in effect for much of southern Ontario, including Toronto and the rest of the Golden Horseshoe. Winter storm warnings were in effect farther north toward Ottawa and Algonquin.

Winter storm warning in eastern Ontario, southern Quebec 

A major low pressure system from the southwestern United States will move up toward the Great Lakes basin on Saturday.

Up to 15 centimetres of snow will begin to fall in eastern Ontario this afternoon, with a winter storm warning in place for areas along the Quebec border including Ottawa. 
A woman walks through a Montreal park last month. A major storm is expected to sweep across Quebec this weekend. (Ryan Remiorz/Canadian Press)

The snow is expected to change to freezing rain and then to rain on Sunday morning. In the Renfrew, Pembroke and Petawawa areas freezing rain could persist until mid-day Sunday.

In Quebec, the system will bring snow this afternoon, spreading east across the province and totalling up to 25 centimetres that will be blown around by moderate to strong easterly winds. 

"As the warm front associated with this system approaches, the snow will become mixed with ice pellets and change to freezing rain over several regions," the forecaster said.

Five to 15 millimetres of freezing rain are possible in Montreal.

Freezing rain warning in N.B.

A trough of low pressure will cross New Brunswick on Sunday, affecting some western and central areas including Fredericton and Oromocto.

A man skis across a bridge in Fredericton last month. Fredericton could see freezing rain this weekend. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

"Snow will develop in advance of the trough overnight tonight and change to ice pellets Sunday morning and to freezing rain near noon before ending early Sunday evening," the forecaster said in a freezing rain warning.

A winter storm warning is in effect for northwest New Brunswick.

Rainfall warnings in Nova Scotia

The Nova Scotia Department of Transportation has been preparing for the past couple of days for the weekend weather.

"Our salt domes are full and we'll get out early with the anti-icing and direct-liquid application, the brine, that goes on the highways," said Barb Baillie, the department's director of operational services.

Drivers battle freezing rain and snow in the Maritimes. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)
Halifax, which is facing criticism about its snow plowing after Thursday's hit of snow left several accidents and stranded vehicles, says it will be ready for whatever Sunday brings.

Snow is expected to turn to rain on Sunday, with rainfall warnings issued across much of the province. Flooding in low-lying areas is possible. 

A multi-day mess in Newfoundland

A winter system is forecast to affect Newfoundland from Sunday through to Tuesday.

Environment Canada said in a special weather statement that snow will start in southwestern Newfoundland on Sunday afternoon before spreading across the island.   

Snow is expected to be heavy at times and rapidly accumulate before it changes to ice pellets and then to rain by Monday morning. Up to 15 centimetres of snow and 20 millimetres of rain is possible.

Wind and extreme cold weather warnings are in effect along the province's west coast. 


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