Prepare for frigid weekend, capped by Sunday snowstorm, warns Environment Canada

Dig in for a couple more days of very cold weather before snow arrives late Saturday — and where ever possible, turn down your thermostat a notch or two to conserve power.

Hydro-Québec asks customers to reduce peak-hours consumption during current cold snap

With very cold temperatures sticking around the Montreal area for the next few days, Hydro-Québec is asking customers to be conscious of their consumption habits. ((Peter McCabe/Canadian Press))

Dig in for a couple more days of very cold weather — and whenever possible, turn down your thermostat a notch or two to conserve power.

Environment Canada is warning Montrealers of a frigid weekend, capped by a possible "intense winter storm" that could bring significant amounts of snow to some parts of southern Quebec on Sunday, along with northerly winds that could cause blowing snow and reduced visibility on highways.

"The most affected areas should be those located near the American border and the Atlantic provinces," the weather agency said in a special weather advisory issued Thursday.

Environment Canada says it's still not clear how much snow will fall in the Montreal and Laval areas. That depends on the storm's trajectory.

CBC's own weather specialist is forecasting about five centimetres of snow overnight Saturday and another five to ten centimetres during the day Sunday.

The forecast calls for a high of  –14 C Friday and a low of –23 C overnight. That could feel much colder, due to the windchill. Similar temperatures lay in store for the weekend.

Reduce consumption, Hydro urges

Hydro-Québec is recommending that people lower the thermostat and put on a sweater during the cold snap.

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Serge Abergel said demand for power always goes up when extreme cold sets in.

The utility's network is most taxed during peak hours, between 6 a.m. and 9 a.m., and then again between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.  

"I would give the same advice to all consumers: if you're not home, turn down thermostat. Reduce your bills," he said.

Hydro-Québec recommends reducing heating by one or two degrees in unused rooms and reducing shower time by a minute or two.

It is also asks consumers to plan to use power-intensive appliances such as dishwashers, washers and dryers until times of the day when there's less demand for electricity.

During winter spikes in power consumption, Hydro has to purchase power from its neighbours in the power grid.

With files from CBC's Brennan Neill and Canadian Press