Snow, heavy winds wallop eastern Quebec, Atlantic

Environment Canada says that as a system heads up the Eastern Seaboard, its "rapid even explosive development" will turn it into a major storm that will bring 20-50 centimetres of snow and high winds to some areas.

Some areas of Quebec may see up to 50 centimetres of snow

Montreal is not expected to receive as much snow as other regions in Quebec. (Sarah Leavitt/CBC)

A heavy snow storm is underway and is only expected to get worse for eastern Quebec because of a low-pressure system heading north from the United States.

Environment Canada says that as the system heads up the Eastern Seaboard, its "rapid even explosive development" will turn it into a major storm that will bring 20-50 centimetres of snow and high winds to some areas.

The snow started Thursday morning and is expected to continue into the night.

Winter storm warnings have been issued for a wide swath of the province, including the Gaspé and Saguenay regions, Drummondville, the Eastern Townships and Quebec City.

"It's a big one," said Robert Michaud, a meteorologist for Environment Canada. "It's going to be a historic one for central Quebec and eastern Quebec."

Blowing snow will make for a hard commute starting late Thursday and into Friday morning, according to Michaud. Winds up to 80 kilometres per hour are expected in some regions.

"The worst will be overnight. I'm pretty sure the roads everywhere between Quebec City and the east will be shut down tonight," he said.

Opération Nez Rouge, the free volunteer service offers rides home for people and their cars if they've had too much to drink, has suspended service in Quebec City for Thursday evening.

Visibility will be tough on the roads due to blowing snow. (CBC)

Montreal will be spared the worst

The low-pressure system moving from Boston to the Gaspé will barely graze the Montreal area, Michaud said. The storm will peak in the early afternoon and settle down by the evening.

Drivers are being asked to avoid the northern side of Parc Avenue, where buses and cars are having difficulty driving uphill due to the accumulation of snow.

Environment Canada expects 10-15 centimetres of snow in and around the island.

Wet snow and slick roads made for a tricky commute Thursday morning in Toronto. (Tony Smyth/CBC)

Travellers warned about delays

The same system is expected to bring snow, rain and high winds to parts of the Atlantic provinces Thursday and Friday.

Environment Canada says the storm may cause large waves in the St. Lawrence Estuary, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and Chaleur Bay, which could be problematic in coastal regions during high tides Friday.

Several flights from Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau airport have been cancelled or delayed, according to the Aéroports de Montréal website.

Orléans Express, Quebec's principal intercity bus company, is warning customers that all departures today are conditional on the weather, and to expect delays and even cancellations.

A spokesman for Via Rail said while there are no expected major delays or cancellations due to the weather, passengers heading east of Montreal can call 1-888-VIA RAIL (1-888-842-7245) to check the status of their trains before heading to the station. 

As well, snow in Toronto has prompted Pearson International Airport to warn travellers that flight delays are possible.

A different storm system is expected to hit parts of southeast Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba on Friday, bringing 10-15 centimetres and strong winds.

With files from Radio-Canada