Winter storm ravages eastern Quebec, with freezing rain in southwest of province

Freezing rain left tens of thousands of Hydro-Québec clients without power Tuesday night, espeically in Montreal and the Montérégie. Meanwhile, people living in Quebec City and La Mauricie were hit with freezing rain after a colossal dump of snow.

Thousands of Hydro customers without power Tuesday night in Montérégie, Montreal, due to freezing rain

Environment Canada also issued freezing rain warnings for a large swath of southern Quebec. (Radio-Canada)

Freezing rain left tens of thousands of Hydro-Québec clients without power in Montreal and the Montérégie Tuesday night, while people people living in Quebec City and La Mauricie were hit with freezing rain after a colossal dumping of snow.

"Consider postponing nonessential travel until conditions improve," Environment Canada said in a winter storm warning issued to residents in eastern Quebec.

Up to 40 centimetres of snow and blowing snow are expected over central and eastern Quebec by Wednesday night, according to the agency, with the heaviest snowfall expected in Charlevoix and extending into the Lower North Shore.

Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning for much of Central and Eastern Quebec. (Radio-Canada)

Up to 20 centimetres of snow is expected in Témiscamingue and Saguenay–Lac-Saint-Jean areas.

Freezing rain hit Quebec City and La Mauricie Tuesday evening, and is expected to arrive in the Lower North Shore by Wednesday morning. 

Hazardous road conditions across province

Road conditions were treacherous, particularly on Highway 20 between Quebec City and Rimouski.

In the Gaspé, sections of Highways 132 and 138 were closed to heavy trucks due to harsh weather conditions.

"Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots will become icy, slippery and hazardous," said Environment Canada. (Radio-Canada)

Part of Highway 175, in the Laurentians wildlife reserve, was closed to trucks for most of the day but has now been reopened.

Environment Canada also issued freezing rain warnings for a large swath of southern Quebec, including the greater Montreal area, Vaudreuil-Soulanges, the Laurentians, Lanaudière and the Eastern Townships.

"Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots will become icy, slippery and hazardous," said the weather agency.

"Ice buildup may cause tree branches to break."

Guillaume Paradis, spokesperson for Transports Québec, said road maintenance crews will adapt to the changing conditions to keep the roads clear.

In Montreal, the sidewalks were an icy and slushy mess. (Charles Contant/CBC)

"You have to apply the products in the right proportions, do the right thing for safe travel," Paradis told Radio-Canada.

"That's what we're going to do."

On Tuesday night, a man died in a road collision on Highway 15 near Mirabel, Que., about 60 kilometres northwest of Montreal. 

Quebec provincial police said difficult road conditions were likely a factor. 

Schools closed across Quebec

Thousands of students across southern Quebec had Tuesday day off school after a mix of freezing rain and snow left behind a slippery mess.

All school boards in Montreal cancelled classes for students and staff on Tuesday. Most schools were also closed in areas such as Laval and the Eastern Townships.

Tough commute, flight cancellations

For those who had no choice but to head outdoors on Tuesday, the safest thing to do was drive slowly.

Montreal's snow-removal crews were out in full force, said city spokesperson Philippe Sabourin.

"Be careful because the small roads, the sidewalks are not completely de-iced," he said Tuesday.

Furry companions also had to take extra precautions on slippery roads and sidewalks. (Charles Contant/CBC)

He added that city workers would tackle the 6,000 kilometres of sidewalks across Montreal. They prioritized bus lanes and main arteries.

"Our teams are working hard," he said. "We're there on the ground."

The treacherous conditions of the sidewalks led to about 20 calls about falls to Urgences-Santé Tuesday morning.

Spokesperson Valérie Tremblay said most of the injuries were minor. She advised pedestrians to be careful on the sidewalks and to clear their entrances of snow and ice.

"It's difficult conditions but we have added more people on the road and we're doing everything to minimize delays," she told Radio-Canada.

Montreal's public transit authority (STM) asked commuters to plan their trips in advance.

In Quebec City, the Réseau de transport de la Capitale modified some of its routes for weather reasons.

Passengers were advised to check the status of their flights before they go to the Montreal Trudeau airport as dozens of flights were either delayed or cancelled.

Orléans Express, Quebec's principal intercity bus company, cancelled several trips. The company warned customers that all other departures on Tuesday were conditional on the weather, and to expect delays and even cancellations.

At the Quebec City airport, all Air Canada, West Jet and Pascan flights to Montreal, Toronto, Sept-Îles and Mont-Joli were cancelled. However, flights heading south were not cancelled.
Other parts of Quebec were under a winter storm warning Tuesday. Some areas had up to 40 centimetres of snow in the forecast. (Carl Boivin/Radio-Canada)

With files from Radio-Canada