Canadian winter in full force as 9 provinces under warnings, watches

A messy assortment of winter warnings and special weather statements are in place in nine provinces in Canada, as hydro crews work to restore power to customers in Quebec, a large swath of the Prairies is in a deep freeze and southern Ontario braces for the coldest weather so far this winter.

Crews work feverishly to restore power to customers in Quebec

A Hydro-Québec pole teeters as freezing rain casts the province in ice. Thousands of hydro customers are without power in Quebec on Sunday, as the first blast of winter in 2015 wreaks havoc in the province and across the country. (CBC)

A messy assortment of winter warnings and special weather statements are in place in nine provinces in Canada, as hydro crews work to restore power to customers in Quebec, a large swath of the Prairies is in a deep freeze and southern Ontario braces for the coldest weather so far this winter. 

Here’s a breakdown from coast to coast:

British Columbia

Environment Canada advised British Columbians to postpone non-essential travel due to "hazardous winter conditions" and issued 24 winter storm warnings and one snowfall warning for various parts of the province Sunday. 

The storms brought wet snow to higher elevations in Metro Vancouver, as well as the Fraser Valley, and Environment Canada forecast as much as 35 cm for the Okanagan Valley by Monday morning.

Crews across B.C. responded to collisions and vehicles in ditches Sunday. (@JayPilottruck/Twitter)
Police forces across the province reported responding to multiple collisions due to the nasty winter weather. 

A special weather statement warning drivers that heavy snow will impact driving conditions on many highways remained in effect Sunday evening and it is expected to extend into Monday. 

Prairies and Northern Ontario

Most parts of the Prairie provinces and northern Ontario are under extreme cold warnings, as residents braced for bitter cold and fierce wind chills. 

Edmonton resident Paul Raimundo tweeted CBC Edmonton a photo of his backyard rink on a cold Sunday. (Paul Raimundo/Twitter)
The deep freeze was brought by a frigid arctic air mass that has settled over the Prairies, according to the federal weather agency.

In southern Saskatchewan, southern Manitoba and northern Ontario, it could feel as cold as –40 C to –45 C with the wind chill, though temperatures in Alberta and the southern regions of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are expected "to ease" by late Monday morning as a warm air mass moves eastward.   

Southern Ontario

Southern Ontario will soon share the fate of its Prairie neighbours as the arctic air mass, arriving Sunday night, is expected to plunge the region into a deep freeze in the coming week, according to Environment Canada.

Ottawa saw 18 centimetres of snow Saturday evening followed by freezing rain Sunday morning. (Michel Aspirot/CBC)

The weather system is expected to bring the coldest weather so far this season. Temperatures will likely dip to –20 C or below on the coldest days — well below the seasonal average for early January. 

The areas along the shorelines of the Great Lakes and southwestern Ontario may bottom out between –15 C to –20 C.

Freezing rain, snow squall and wind warnings and watches are also in place in some areas.


Extreme cold, winter storm, freezing rain, snowfall, snow squall and blowing snow: Quebec has it all.

Hydro crews worked Sunday evening to restore power to customers in Quebec who were in the dark due to a damaging winter storm that at its peak had knocked out power to 160,000 customers. 

Environment Canada issued extreme cold warnings for parts of the province, where it could feel as cold as –38 C to –48 C due to cold temperatures combined with winds.

Winter storm warnings are also in effect as moderate snow changes to freezing rain late Sunday. Residents should expect snowfall of between 15 to 30 cm and freezing precipitation between five and 15 mm.

Environment Canada is advising residents to postpone non-essential travel until conditions improve.

Snow squall watches and blowing snow advisories are also in place for parts of the province. 

“Visibility may be significantly and suddenly reduced to near zero,” Environment Canada said.

Atlantic Canada

Weather alerts appear to have spared Prince Edward Island, but the rest of the Atlantic provinces are all under the spell of winter.

Winter storm warnings and freezing rain warnings are in place for New Brunswick, as snow changes to ice pellets then to freezing rain in some parts of the province.

Later on Sunday, Environment Canada also issued extreme cold warnings for parts of the province. Temperatures are expected to drop to around –25 C Monday night. With wind chills, it may feel more like –35 C overnight Monday into Tuesday morning. 

Streets are snow covered in Charlottetown on Jan. 4, 2015. (Patrick Faller/CBC)

A messy weather forecast is in store for Newfoundland and Labrador, as the region readies for wind, freezing rain, winter storm and snowfall. In the Wreckhouse area, strong winds gusting to 120 km/h are expected.

The snow remaining in parts of northern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton will change over to ice pellets and freezing rain before turning to rain.

Twenty to 30 mm of rainfall is expected from Sunday night through Monday morning. Localized flooding in low-lying areas is also possible.

Meanwhile, P.E.I. — the only province in Canada not under any type of weather alerts — will still be affected by the same weather system. Five to 10 cm of snow and ice pellets were expected in the afternoon with rain beginning in the evening Sunday.

The Confederation Bridge has issued an advisory that restrictions may be put in place later Sunday due to high winds.

With files from The Canadian Press