Extreme cold sets in again as winter storm rages on in Quebec

The deep freeze is starting to set in again as a powerful winter storm continues to wallop southern, central and eastern Quebec.

Deep freeze comes as heavy snowfall, strong winds, storm surges wreak havoc

Pedestrians battle the blowing snow and frigid weather Friday, Jan.5 in Montreal. (Ryan Remiorz/The Canadian Press)

The bitter cold is setting in again across much of the province, even as a powerful winter storm continues to wallop eastern Quebec.

Environment Canada has issued extreme cold warnings for a large swath of southern and central Quebec, including for the greater Montreal region, the Quebec City region, the Eastern Townships, the Laurentians and the Abitibi region.

"A cool arctic air mass combined with brisk winds will cause wind chill values from –38 in southern Quebec to –49 over more northwestern portions of the province," the weather agency advised.

Eastern Quebec will then get hit by the same deep freeze, with colder weather moving to Quebec's North Shore by Saturday night.

In such frigid weather, Environment Canada warns that frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially in windy conditions.

The bitter cold comes as heavy snowfall, strong winds and storm surges wreak havoc across the province.

A number of roads and highways remain closed across eastern Quebec, the region hardest hit by heavy snowfall, strong winds and storm surges.

Environment Canada is warning drivers that blowing snow could result in near zero visibility on roads right across the province.
A ferry sits in the St. Lawrence River at the Quebec City ferry terminal. The storm system wreaking havoc on eastern Quebec and the Atlantic provinces has brought high tides to the area. (Martine Côté/Radio-Canada)

The winter storm is also delaying plans for many air travellers. Hundreds of flights out of Trudeau airport have been either cancelled or delayed since the storm first hit the northeastern U.S. on Thursday.

While Montreal was spared the brunt of the storm, the city's public transit agency told commuters to expect delays today, and it warned providing service to wheelchair users at normally accessible bus stops would be difficult.

Orléans Express, the province's intercity bus service, also advised its clients to expect delays and cancellations today.

Evacuations on Gaspé Peninsula, 7-Îles

The storm surge forced some residents who live along the shoreline in the Gaspé and the Lower Saint Lawrence region to evacuate from their homes early Friday morning.

Rising floodwaters also dumped large blocks of ice and snow onto properties and roads.
Big waves come crashing down along the shore in Chandler, in the Gaspé peninsula. Winds gusts at times were as strong as 110 km/h. (Submitted by William De Merchant)

Before the brunt of the storm hit, some residents in Sept-Îles also decided to leave their homes Thursday.

"People living around the shorelines are concerned. Some of them are already evacuating their houses, just to be preventive," said Patrick William, general manager of the city of Sept-Îles.

There are about 1,400 homes along the shoreline, and high tides could cause flooding and damage to buildings.

He said teams of firefighters and snow-clearing workers are observing the situation and keeping sewers clear.

Overnight shelter in Rivière-du-Loup

A stretch of Highway 20 eastbound, near the city of Rivière-du-Loup, was forced to close for several hours Friday.

That prompted officials to set up a temporary shelter where stranded drivers could spend the night.

Doors opened Friday at 8 p.m. at Rivière-du- Loup High School, which could accommodate about 100 people. Officials said extra spots could be added if necessary.

With files from Verity Stevenson, Quebec AM and Radio-Canada