Travel excruciating due to record-breaking snowfall and wind gusts

A large winter storm has hit the Ottawa-Gatineau region, dropping 12 centimetres of snow on Ottawa's main airport in less than an hour and breaking a century-old record of snowfall for Jan. 17.

Many cancellations, police warn against using some highways after 43 cm fell by 1 p.m.

A person uses their arm to brush snow off the hood of a truck amid heavy snow and driving wind in Ottawa Jan. 17, 2022. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

The winter storm hitting the Ottawa-Gatineau region has already broken a century-old record for snow for Jan. 17, and that snow coupled with the wind will make travel difficult for most of the day.

Winter storm warnings continue to cover the entire region after light snow started off the storm early Monday morning in Ottawa, getting heavier after sunrise. 

The snowfall is expected to continue through the day — with the worst in late morning — until this evening, petering out some time after sunset in the capital.

About 12 centimetres fell in an hour at the Ottawa airport in the morning, according to CBC climatologist Ian Black.

The 43 centimetres recorded there by 1 p.m. has already broken a one-day record for snowfall on this date, Jan. 17, in Ottawa using data back to 1890. It's also more snow than the airport recorded for all 31 days of December.

The previous record was 22.9 centimetres in 1920.

WATCH | Winter storm leaves Ottawa-Gatineau residents digging out 

Winter storm leaves Ottawa-Gatineau residents digging out

6 months ago
Duration 1:03
A winter storm hit the region Monday, breaking a century-old record for the most snow in one day — 43 centimetres had fallen at the Ottawa airport by 1 p.m.

Highway closures and advisories

Highway 7 has been closed between Highway 417 and Kaladar because Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) say plows can't keep it safe and multiple vehicles are blocking the road.

Police are investigating a fatal crash between two large trucks and a passenger vehicle on Highway 417 around Maxville around 5:30 a.m. A closed stretch of the highway reopened around 2 p.m.

By mid-morning, OPP in Ottawa said there were serious visibility problems on major highways and warned against taking them, saying they couldn't guarantee help right away if drivers run into trouble.

In Ottawa, the forecast called for anywhere from 20 to 30 centimetres of snow on Monday with wind gusts hitting 40 or 50 kilometres an hour.

A CAA crew helps people whose vehicle went off a snowy Ottawa road during a blizzard warning on Monday morning. (Francis Ferland/CBC)

Further from the capital

The Belleville area is another with widespread visibility problems and was the first to switch to a blizzard warning. All blizzard warnings have turned back into winter storm warnings.

Those problems were expected to improve, only slightly albeit, after 11 a.m. and will continue to present an issue until Monday evening.

The Bay of Quinte Skyway Bridge just before 8 a.m. on Monday, right around the time a blizzard warning was issued for the area. (MTO)

To the capital's north, Maniwaki's forecast predicts 30 centimetres of snow. A bit less snow could fall along Lake Ontario compared to the capital.

Kingston Transit has cancelled many routes today.

The forecast has led to many cancellations, including all school buses for the region's boards, and the closure of some community vaccine clinics.

Ottawa's weather records don't include many cases of 30 or more centimetres of snow in a single day — just 16 days going back to 1890. Only five days have records of 40 centimetres or more.

People skate on the Rideau Canal Skateway amid heavy snow and driving wind in Ottawa on Monday. Conditions were, as you would expect, listed as poor. (Justin Tang/The Canadian Press)

Monday's high of –4 C is the warmest in a day in more than a week.

Cold temperatures return Tuesday, resembling the weather that hit the capital last week, with a high of –16 C in Ottawa matching Monday's overnight low. Wednesday could be warmer and bring more snow.