A major storm that brought blizzard conditions and freezing rain to southern Ontario moved into Quebec early Friday, forcing school closures andbus and flight cancellations.
Environment Canada said southern Quebec could get hit with as much a 30 centimetres of heavy wind-whipped snow by midday.
In the greater Montreal region, snow started falling early Friday morning at the rate of three centimetres per hour, creating treacherous driving conditions on roads and highways blanketed by icy snow. More than 12 centimetres fell on Montreal before 9 a.m. ET.
The storm is barrelling through other regions, including the Laurentians, Lanaudière, the Mauricie, the Eastern Townships and Quebec City, where the forecast is calling for 25 to 30 centimetres of snow accumulation.
The storm is bringing high winds of 30 to 40 km/h, with gusts as high as 80 km/h. Friday's daytime high will be mild, however, with the mercury expected to creep to –2 C.
All major school boards in the greater Montreal region, Montérégie and the Eastern Townships are closed, including:
- English Montreal School Board: all schools and offices.
- Riverside School Board: all schools and offices.
- Lester B. Pearson School Board.
- Sherbrooke School Board: day cares are open and staff are expected to work.
- New Frontiers School Board: all schools, adult centres and offices. Bus transportation for off-territory schools will not be provided.
- Eastern Townships School Board: all schools, centres and offices.
- Sir Wilfrid Laurier School Board: all schools, centres and offices.
- The Study School: parent-teacher interviews postponed until next week.
- Selwyn House School in Westmount.
- St. George's School in Montreal.
- Montreal Oral School for the Deaf.
- Commission scolaire de Montreal.
- Commission scolaire Marguerite Bourgeoys.
Quebec City's main French-language school board sent students home Friday afternoon.
Montreal's Trudeau Airport cancelled several flights because of poor visibility and icy conditions. Passengers are encouraged to check with their airlines before travelling to the airport.
Greyhound cancelled all bus departures from Montreal Friday afternoon, and said there are delays of up to four hours for incoming buses. Service should be restored by Friday night.
Storm making driving difficult
Transport Quebec said the storm's heavy winds and powdery snow are reducing visibility on several roads and highways in the province's southwest region. Visibility is near zero on Highways 25, 40, 440 and 640. In the greater Montreal region, driving conditions were slightly better on Highways 13, 15 and 20.
In the Eastern Townships, visibility is low on Highway 10, and very poor on Route 116. In the Mauricie region, conditions are rapidly deteriorating on Highway 55, Transport Quebec said.
In the Montérégie, driving is very difficult and transport officials are urging people to stay home if they can.
In the Outaouais, roads and highways are snow-covered but visibility was still good Friday morning.
CAA said it is fielding twice as many calls as usual from stranded motorists, and drivers should expect to wait up to 90 minutes for a response.
"Our teams have to go to the places where the calls are, and because of the heavy snow and traffic, it's difficult," said CAA spokeswoman Roxanne Héroux.
The city of Montreal has sent out snow removal teams, but is recommending people leave their cars at home until the storm subsides.
The storm is heading east and is expected to hit New Brunswick Friday afternoon.