Quebec winter storm causes delays, blackouts and accidents
Poor visiblity and lots of precipitation have caused major headaches for people in southern Quebec
Montrealers have seen it all in this weekend winter storm — rain, freezing rain, ice pellets and, of course, snow.
Almost 15 millimetres of mixed precipitation fell on the city on Saturday, and Environment Canada is forecasting that between 15 and 30 centimetres of snow and ice pellets will fall today.
Environment Canada also says freezing drizzle will fall on the city on Monday before the weather system finally moves out of the area.
At least there’s some good news — no precipitation is forecast for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day in southern Quebec.
In the interim, Montreal executive committee vice-president Anie Samson said on Twitter Sunday afternoon that all city streets would be cleared today.
"During the snow removal operation, some 3,000 employees on 2,200 machines will be working to remove the snow," said a news release issued by the city on Sunday afternoon. It will prioritize major roads, as well as roads serving major bus routes, Metro stations and the areas around hospitals.
The city uses a variety of machines for snow removal, including sidewalk tractors, graders, snowplows and front-end loaders.
As for major roadways, Transports Québec said this weekend its highway snow-clearing is an around-the-clock operation.
Many people with holiday travel plans are still waiting to get out of town. Most flights out of Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport have either been delayed or cancelled entirely due to treacherous weather conditions.
Via Rail is reporting some delays in the Quebec City-Windsor corridor, but doesn't expect there to be outright cancellations at this point in time.
Useful storm-related links
Effects of the storm
Quebec roads saw at least five fatalities over the weekend, with many more accidents, both major and minor.
Four men died in four separate road accidents on the night between Friday and Saturday, and a 21-year-old woman died Saturday afternoon in the Beauce region after losing control of her car and colliding with another car head-on.
Nez Rouge had to suspend its service in some regions of southern Quebec this weekend due to the terrible road conditions. The organization, which helps people who’ve had a few too many drinks get home safely, says it wasn’t able to respond to nearly 5,000 requests on Saturday.
Nez Rouge spokesman David Latouche says Thetford Mines and Chambly were particularly affected by the suspension of service.
Elsewhere, power was out for thousands of Hydro-Québec customers In the Eastern Townships and other regions of southern Quebec.
The STM, Montreal’s public transit authority, has issued a warning on its website that says its bus service is “seriously disrupted” due to weather conditions. It has also issued a notice to wheelchair users, saying that the weather may prevent the wheelchair ramp from being used today.
Later it tweeted that wheelchair users should "travel another time."
Sherbrooke's transit authority has gone so far as to cancel its bus service entirely for the time being.
Transports Québec and Environment Canada are both advising people to stay off the roads completely if possible.
Meanwhile, some American cities are experiencing record heat. Philadelphia, Atlantic City and other locations on the Eastern Seaboard and seeing temperatures in the high teens and low 20s.