Canadian weather brings extreme cold, high winds, power outages
On anniversary of 1998 ice storm start, crews work to restore power to Quebecers affected by icy lines
It was winter weather full-on in much of Canada today with the return to work and school after the New Year's holiday weekend.
As of 7 p.m. ET, Environment Canada showed weather warnings in parts of British Columbia, Ontario, Quebec, New Brunswick and Newfoundland and Labrador. Some areas were under extreme cold warnings in Yukon, northern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba, while blizzard warnings and extreme cold were forecast for parts of Nunavut.
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Highways and schools closed, thousands of residents lost power, and avalanche experts issued backcountry warnings, as parts of British Columbia experienced winter's first wallop of 2015.
Avalanche Canada forecaster Tom Riley said the slide danger is high in the southern Interior, though people were continuing to take risks on the mountains.
"We have reports of people going for rides on avalanches and getting partially buried," he said Monday.
The danger rating applies to the Cariboo Mountains, the north Monashees and the Selkirks, all the way down to the Kootenay-Boundary region and into the Purcells, Riley said.
Heavy snowfall closed schools in the central Okanagan, North Okanagan-Shuswap, Fraser-Cascade and Kamloops districts, as well as private schools and Thompson Rivers University.
Monday was supposed to be the first day back to class after the winter break.
2,500 Quebecers without electricity
Hydro-Québec said it expected to re-establish electricity by Monday night to all the households affected by weekend power outages caused by freezing rain.
More than 150,000 households — primarily in the Montreal area — lost power.
Roads and sidewalks throughout eastern and northeastern Quebec remained treacherous on Monday owing to snow, ice and freezing wind.
Many flights departing from and arriving to Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport were delayed or cancelled Sunday night and Monday.
Quebec's Transport Department warned that visibility was close to zero on roads in the province's Rimouski and Matane regions, located northeast of Quebec City along the St. Lawrence River.
Hydro-Québec said 2,507 households remained without power as of 5:30 p.m. ET Monday.
There was still considerable ice buildup on tree branches and power lines.
The snow and freezing rain also caused at least 100 traffic accidents, including one in which a young woman was killed.
City of Montreal spokesman Jacques-Alain Lavallée told CBC News on Monday that 2,200 pieces of equipment and 3,000 city workers were deployed in the morning to tackle the sidewalks and streets.
He said the sudden temperature drop presents a challenge.
"At some point the temperature is too cold for the salt to be effective," Lavallée said.
He said the city would spread gravel rather than salt to help provide traction.
Much of the province is under an extreme cold warning Monday night, with wind chill as low as –45 expected.
Snow squalls in southern Ontario
There are snow squall warnings in effect on and around the Bruce Peninsula in southern Ontario.
"Motorists should be prepared for sudden dangerous winter driving conditions due to nil visibility in bursts of heavy snow and local blowing snow," the warning says.
Toronto is not under any weather warnings, though city residents had to deal with the coldest day of winter so far: –13.
Mix of warnings in Atlantic Canada
The forecaster warned that loose objects may be tossed in the winds, which are expected to subside by Tuesday morning.
There are also winter storm warnings in effect for southeastern Labrador and Newfoundland's Great Northern Peninsula, with strong winds causing poor visibility.
There are also extreme cold warnings in Labrador City.
In the Maritimes, an extreme cold warning is in effect for the entire northern half of New Brunswick.
In Halifax today, people outside enjoyed a respite with above-freezing temperatures, but it didn't last. The Weather Network was forecasting a low Monday night of –14 C, followed by a high of –12 C on Tuesday, with clear skies.
In Lake Echo this morning, 15 kilometres east of Dartmouth, a school bus slid off Bluerock Road after coming to what was described as a sheet of ice. There were no injuries.
With files from The Canadian Press