It was just a few days ago that Montreal sidewalks were bare. There were even some patches of grass peeking through the melting snow.
But Quebecers living in the southern portion of the province woke up to a serious reminder this morning that winter is far from over — even if it is mid-March.
The Montreal area got 17 centimetres of snow when it all stopped falling Thursday morning. The Eastern Townships got about 25 centimetres of fresh snow, while the Gaspé got close to 30 centimetres.
Anie Samson, the Montreal executive committee member responsible for snow-clearing operations, said 1,000 snow-clearing machines were deployed across the city to take care of the accumulation as soon as 2.5 centimetres had fallen on Wednesday afternoon.
City spokesman Jacques-Alain Lavallée said the snow-clearing operations are going smoothly, and the job should be done within the next four or so days.
This marks Montreal's third major snowfall since the year started.
Lavallée said the city budgeted $150 million for snow removal — enough for five major removal operations in 2014.
“We are on the 2014 budget, and we usually have five snow-removal operations that are planned. This would be our third, so there is still money in the till," he said.
But snow removal is not underway yet in all boroughs.
People in the boroughs of Saint-Léonard and the Southwest will have to wait until Monday.
As for those who live in Rivière-des-Prairies–Pointe-aux-Trembles and Mercier–Hochelaga-Maisonneuve, they will have to wait longer. Officials say crews will not remove the snow yet.
Although it certainly feels like a lot of snow has fallen this year, the city said the 188.2 centimetres that have already fallen on Montreal is actually below the 34-year average of 200.1 centimetres. If this month is anything like the average March, Montrealers should expect 29 centimetres in all.
The record for snowfall in Montreal was set in 2007-2008, with 505.6 centimetres.
School closures, delays
Dozens of schools across the South Shore, the Eastern Townships and other areas south of the St. Lawrence were closed as a result of the poor weather.
Activity at Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport was also stalled, with many flight delays and cancellations.
People relying on public transit in Montreal also had some difficulties this morning: