Multi-vehicle accidents trigger road closures as winter storm pummels Quebec

With a major snowstorm continuing to batter regions across Quebec, provincial police say there have been many accidents, including pileups involving dozens of vehicles that forced Transports Québec to close some highways on Montreal's South Shore.

Portions of Highways 20 and 30 were closed for hours on Montreal's South Shore due to pileups

An accident involving several vehicles has closed a portion of Highway 20 eastbound in Boucherville, as heavy snowfall hits most of Quebec. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

With a major snowstorm continuing to batter regions across Quebec, provincial police say there have been many accidents, including pileups involving dozens of vehicles that forced Transports Québec to close some highways on Montreal's South Shore.

There were pileups on three different highways involving a total of more than 70 cars, starting around 11:30 a.m., according to provincial police. 

The westbound lanes of Highway 20 were closed for more than two hours after three separate pileups, Transports Québec wrote on Twitter.

The westbound lanes of Highway 30 were also closed in Saint-Constant, at Rang Régis, after a crash involving about 40 vehicles, police said. Eight people suffered minor injuries. 

A pileup along the eastbound lanes of Highway 10 by Carignan was also reported by provincial police. 

The roads have now all been cleared and reopened.

Quebec provincial police say there have been two separate vehicle pileups on Highway 20, heading east, on the South Shore of Montreal. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

Transports Québec reported little to no visibility on many roads across the province, and people were being advised to stay home and off the roads when possible.

"We expect poor visibility conditions because of the heavy snow and winds that will cause blowing snow," said Environment Canada meteorologist Jean-Philippe Bégin. "We expect blowing snow everywhere."

Postal service halted

Canada Post also issued a rare red service alert for the entire province. In a statement on its website, the Crown corporation said postal carriers would not be delivering mail and packages Monday, as "inclement weather and snow have made it unsafe."

It said the service disruption notice won't be lifted until it's deemed safe for Canada Post workers to head back out onto the roads and sidewalks.

A man walks with his shovel in Montreal on Monday. Up to 30 centimetres of snow are expected to drop on the province today. (Ivanhoe Demers/Radio-Canada)

Major school boards and service centres across Quebec shut down schools for the day, though some opted to carry on with online learning. Schools had been scheduled to return to class Monday after a delayed post-holiday start due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The storm is the result of a low-pressure system travelling north from the U.S. Eastern Seaboard; it comes after much of Quebec has experienced extreme cold temperatures for the past several days.

On Saturday morning, temperatures dipped to –24 C in Montreal, which felt like a blistering –37 C with the wind chill factor. A balmy high of –3 C was expected for Monday.

Jackie Rosenhek and her children, Morgan and Ophelia, took advantage of the snow day to go sledding in a Montreal park. (Valeria Cori-Manocchio/CBC)

Snow day for some kids

Jackie Rosenhek said her children, Morgan and Ophelia, were supposed to go back to school and daycare on Monday, but the weather had other ideas.

"So instead of destroying the house, we're going to destroy the park," she said, laughing.

Rosenhek, who lives in Montreal, said that with the kids back in class, she'd expected to get back to a normal work schedule, but didn't mind an extra day together first.

"It's kind of nice to not have to manage everything all at once and just be like — 'yeah, it's a snow day,'" she said. "This whole world is crazy, so just enjoy it."

Melissa Dernaucourt, also of Montreal, said she was happy her children didn't have to grapple with online learning, and instead got to enjoy some time outdoors.

"We're trying to keep the little joys that we have and just … make the best of a hard situation," she said.

Storm surge in the Gaspé, North Shore regions

In addition to the snow, coastal areas in northeastern Quebec were also told to brace for a storm surge from the ocean.

Environment Canada and Fisheries and Oceans Canada issued a joint warning of potential breaking sea conditions and overwash — water and sediment cresting along the shoreline higher than usual — due to an intense low-pressure system combined with strong winds and mid-range tides.

Areas including New Carlisle, Chandler, Forillon Park and the towns of Gaspé and Percé in the Gaspé region, as well as Sept-Îles and Port Cartier on the lower North Shore, were told to watch out for rising water along the coast until at least 4 p.m. Monday.

Environment Canada said high waves, combined with the storm surge, could cause damage in areas along the coast that are directly exposed.

With files from Valeria Cori-Manocchio


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