Thunder Bay readies for rain followed by a freeze

Northwestern Ontario is being hit with more wintery weather as the calendar turns from March to April.

Environment Canada warns of 'significant' snowfall, strong winds across northwest

Freezing rain and snowfall warnings are in effect for most of Northwestern Ontario as the calendar turns from March to April.

Environment Canada has issued a freezing rain warning for Thunder Bay and area, the north shore of Lake Superior and Manitouwadge. Winter storm or snowfall warnings apply to other areas of the northwest from the Manitoba boundary to Nakina.

Meteorologist Mitch Meredith said the heavy band of snow started in the west of the region this morning, "But it is moving in and this will be a major storm."

Meredith said the storm will "intensify" Monday night, "And there will be a lot of areas with some heavy snow and blowing snow."

He said as the system moves into the Lake Superior area, some warm air and rain will come with it, leading to the freezing rain warning for Thunder Bay.

The meteorologist added that temperatures in Thunder Bay will fall on Tuesday, raising the prospect of slippery conditions for drivers and pedestrians.  

Heavy snow in Dryden

The Dryden area was one of the spots hit with heavy snow Monday morning.

Roger Valley lives on the outskirts of the city, and said the roads didn't look good this morning, especially since the highways had been so dry and clear.

"It's getting slippery. The plows are out. In fact, one just drove by my front door," said Valley.

"When it's snowing this heavy, it's not going to take long before they're going to be very slippery and people are going to have to be careful."

Valley said the blowing and gusting winds are making visibility very poor, but the roads are still busy — the storm hasn't kept people at home.

School buses, however, were cancelled for Monday in all western parts of the region, except Pickle Lake. 

Those areas include Kenora and Sioux Narrows, Dryden and Vermillion Bay, Red Lake and Ear Falls, Sioux Lookout, Ignace and Upsala.

Schools remained open, however, according to a statement issued Sunday night by the Northwestern Ontario Student Services Consortium.

Wait-and-see in Thunder Bay

Thunder Bay roads division manager Brad Adams said the city is monitoring the weather closely, but is waiting to see what the storm brings.

"If the temperature stays above zero it might not be as drastic as if it drops below zero. So we have to assess that," said Adams.

"The forecast right now could change, and we don't want to commit resources that we don't need to commit."

Adams said the city has a regularly scheduled road maintenance crew starting at midnight Monday, but it won't deploy extra resources based on the current forecast.

"Even if it's a plowing event, we prepare for it but we don't mobilize in anticipation of it. Once it starts happening, then we start to react to it," he said.

The storm is expected to end sometime Tuesday, as it moves from Lake Superior to James Bay.


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