After storm, Montreal preps for earliest snow-removal operation in its history

City spokesperson Philippe Sabourin said it's rare a full-fledged snow removal operation follows a snowfall so early in the season. Snow removal operations typically start mid-December.

Snow-removing operations typically don't star until mid-December. Not this year

The 20 cm of snow that fell on Montreal may have been a drag for some, but others, like 3-year-old Leela and her 5-year-old brother Nicot, saw in it the perfect opportunity for play. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada)

After more than 20 centimetres of snow fell on southern Quebec, the City of Montreal announced it would be undertaking its earliest snow-removal operation ever Wednesday. 

City spokesperson Philippe Sabourin said it's rare a full-fledged snow removal operation follows a snowfall so early in the season. Snow removal operations typically start mid-December.

But the amount of snow defied expectations, closing more than 10 school boards across the province, causing flight delays out of the Montreal airport, and slowing public transit in the city. 

Snow removal is when the city, after having cleared snow from roads, goes from street to street to remove snow banks. The operation often requires people to move their cars. 

The operation will begin at 7 a.m. Wednesday.

The snow began Monday evening, only slowing on Tuesday morning.

The storm took on larger proportions in eastern Quebec, were the snow fell heavier and the winds blew stronger.

Transports Québec asked people to avoid driving, with some roads still uncleared and covered in a thin sheet of ice.

"Winter tires can be a problem this morning — we know the deadline is Dec. 1 and some wait until the last minute and that could be a problem," said ministry spokesperson Émilie Lord. 

Lord said 97 per cent of snow-removal contractors hired by Transports Québec are out, clearing roads across the province. 

Montreal calls in snow-clearing contractors early

Monday, Montreal Mayor Valérie Plante said this would be the earliest the city has had to clear snow, breaking the Nov. 19 record from 1983. 

Montreal citizens can be reassured, she added: "We are ready."

Jean-François Parenteau, the member of the city's executive committee responsible for snow-clearing, said the city had to call in private contractors early for the operation. 

Those contracts typically start Nov. 15, he said. 

"We made calls yesterday to make sure everyone was ready. We've mobilized about 3,000 people," Parenteau said Tuesday, speaking on Radio-Canada's Tout un matin morning radio programme. 

Environment Canada Meteorologist Alexandre Parent said the snow usually arrives around mid-December for Montreal. 

"We're a month early, but we're not breaking records because we've seen in the past late October or really early November," Parent said.

He said it's a series of cold weather systems happened at once, creating "the perfect timing" for an early snow storm.

Laurie Gignac's appointment to get her tires changed happened to be Tuesday morning. Her dog Haki took advantage of the time before to play in the snow. 'She’s apparently one of the dog breeds that loves the snow the most. Yesterday she was jumping all around and having lots of fun,' Gignac said. (Jaela Bernstien/CBC)

Laurie Gignac was out walking her dog, Haki, in the Plateau-Mont-Royal borough Tuesday morning. Her appointment to get her winter tires installed happened to be just a couple hours away. 

"We're going to drive slowly and hope for the best," Gignac said, adding her garage isn't far. 

"It was quite a surprise. We were expecting snow but not that much."

With files from Jaela Bernstien, Jay Turnbull and Radio-Canada


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