Holiday travel a wintry mess in Quebec, central Ontario

A winter storm continues to sweep through parts of Central Canada, bringing high winds and dumping snow in many areas during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Thousands without power after heavy, wet snow topples power lines

Cars make their way along a road as snow falls in Montreal on Friday. The messy weather in parts of the country continued Saturday. (Graham Hughes/Canadian Press)

A winter storm continues to sweep through parts of Central Canada, bringing high winds and dumping snow in many areas during one of the busiest travel periods of the year.

Transports Québec is warning motorists to exercise caution on the roads, which will be busier than usual with shoppers out on the last weekend before Christmas. The agency says the roads are especially icy in the Abitibi-Témiscamingue region.

Hydro crews are working to restore power throughout the Lanaudière and Laurentians regions of Quebec, as well as parts of the Outouais. About 130,000 clients were still without electricity Saturday morning; some have been waiting for power since midday Friday. Around noon Saturday, that number was down to 100,000.

Hydro-Quebec says heavy, wet snow and strong winds toppled power lines. The Pierre Laporte bridge remained closed to traffic Saturday morning in Quebec City due to heavy winds.

Snowfall warnings remain in effect in several regions northeast of Quebec City, where Environment Canada was predicting 25 to 40 centimetres on Saturday. The storm system already produced between 60 and 100 centimetres since Friday in some parts of the province.

The Canada Border Services Agency advised last-minute shoppers willing to brave the weather to prepare for long waits at the border.

"It's always busy during December, because there's a lot of cross-border shopping," CBSA superintendent Benoit Brosseau told CBC's All in a Weekend. However, he added, this weekend is the busiest of the year because it is the last before Christmas.

He reminded travellers to check online and be aware of limitations for what they can and can't bring across the border.

Rain warnings for Maritimes

In the Ottawa area, people are shovelling out from a heavy dump of snow on Friday.

The region has seen a two-day total of 44 centimetres of snow. Another five centimetres were in the forecast for Saturday. Although the snowfall warning ended early Saturday, visibility on some roads was poor due to blowing snow.

The Cobden area, south of Pembroke, appears to be the worst hit in Ontario, with thousands still without power. Power could be restored by the afternoon, officials said.

Elsewhere in the country, rainfall warnings remain in effect for parts of the Maritimes.

A strong trough of low pressure will be making its way across eastern Nova Scotia on Saturday. The rain will be heavy at times, with 20 to 40 millimetres in the forecast.

Rain has eased over western counties of Nova Scotia and will ease over eastern regions later Saturday. However, rain will persist into the evening for Cape Breton, along with winds gusting to 120 km/h, Environment Canada says.

Marine Atlantic has advised passengers the weather may delay ferry travel between Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Light snow was reported across the Prairies and into the British Columbia Interior. Vancouver and Victoria both enjoyed warm temperatures, with light rain forecast overnight.