Montreal's first major snowstorm is expected to taper off Wednesday morning after slowing down the city Tuesday.

Snowfall began around 11:30 p.m. Monday night and by 6:30 p.m. Tuesday about 18 centimetres fell.

To ease congestion, police directed traffic at particularly slippery intersections and officers prevented drivers from going south on Côte-des-Neiges Road at Cedar Avenue.

Buses were unable to make it up the hill and some people got off and walked.

Earlier this morning, there were also problems in Notre-Dame-de-Grâce and Montreal West, where traffic was backlogged on St-Jacques Street.

In the Quebec City area and central Quebec, a winter storm warning extends until Thursday with up to 50 centimetres expected, along with severe winds and blowing snow.

Clearing efforts underway

The City of Montreal's snow-clearing crews took to the streets once 2.5 centimetres of snow was on the ground, said city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin.

"We have 1,000 employees, and 1,000 engines will plow the snow," said Sabourin.

Montreal Weather 20171212

A woman steers her bicycle down a snowy Montreal street during Tuesday's storm. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Major arteries were cleared first, along with the entrances to public buildings such as hospitals, schools and Metro stations and sidewalks, Sabourin said.

Free parking lots were made available to drivers so city crews could clear the streets more quickly.

The city has brought in hundreds more workers for the snow removal operation. 

It asked anyone without winter tires to stop driving during the storm.

No major changes to operations

Jean-François Parenteau, the executive committee member who oversees snow clearing operations, said residents won't see major differences in snow clearing and removal operations under the Plante administration.

"The experience of city employees and their expertise is the same, it exists from year to year," he said.

Snow clearing Montreal

One thousand employees will be part of the snow-clearing operation, according to the City of Montreal. (Charles Contant/CBC)

Sabourin encouraged Montrealers to take public transit until streets were fully cleared.

"The best advice will be to take public transit — buses or the Metro — because, of course, we are on the road with 1,000 engines to make sure it's going to be safe to travel around the city. It's going to be easier if you take the Metro or the bus."

Adapt to road conditions

Environment Canada warned drivers that in storm conditions "rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult."

Montreal Weather 20171212 TOPIX

A group of women push their baby carriages through the park on Tuesday, in the midst of the storm. (Paul Chiasson/Canadian Press)

Drivers were also expected to keep extra distance from the vehicle ahead of them to give themselves more braking time.

Under the Highway Safety Code, drivers who fail to adapt to the road conditions could face a $60 fine.

The Quebec intercity bus company Orléans Express advised clients of delays Tuesday and Wednesday on its routes.

Anyone scheduled to fly after the storm is advised to check your flight status ahead of time.

And Operation Nez Rouge announced it wouldn't operate Tuesday due to the weather.

Weather forecast

Here's what's in store over the next few days.

Montreal area forecast:

  • Tuesday: Snow and blowing snow (15+ cm). High near –5 C.
  • Wednesday: Light snow (five to 10 cm). High near –10 C.
  • Thursday: Sunny, very cold. High near –12 C.

Quebec City area:

  • Tuesday: Snow. Blowing snow in the afternoon. (15+ cm.) Wind gusts up to 90 km/h. High near –6 C.
  • Wednesday: Snow and local blowing snow. High near –5 C.
  • Thursday: Blowing snow. Windy. High near –10 C.
Montreal winter driving

When driving in winter, don't forget to brush off your car and check that your windshield wipers work well. (Charles Contant/CBC)

With files from Lauren McCallum and Radio-Canada