Cold, snow, freezing rain conspiring to ruin your commute, Ottawa

Winter happens in Ottawa, but this week's weather has been 'definitely not normal,' one city official confirmed Wednesday.

City officials describe this week's weather as a perfect storm for roads and sidewalks

Bus commuters vented their frustration over Wednesday's difficult commute. (Laura Osman/CBC)

All week, pedestrians have had to wade down snow-clogged sidewalks and scramble over neck-high drifts.

Cars and trucks that weren't stuck in winter gridlock fishtailed around icy corners, while transit users waiting for late buses considered themselves lucky when their routes weren't cancelled altogether.

Winter happens in Ottawa, but city officials are describing this week's conditions as a perfect storm, and are warning residents it's not over yet.

"That is definitely not normal," said Bryden Denyes, the city's manager for core roads. "With the extreme cold temperatures and then the snow, it poses challenges for us getting the snow [cleared]."

Road salt is also less effective when temperatures dip below –18 C, Denyes said.

Bryden Denyes, manager of core roads for the City of Ottawa, describes efforts to keep roads and sidewalks clear during the prolonged winter storm. 0:35

In a major snowstorm, plows tackle priority roads and bike lanes before moving on to residential roads and sidewalks. But with snow coming down has heavily as it has, Denyes said it can be difficult just trying to figure out where the plows have already been.

"As fast as we were plowing the snow, it was building up right away after," he said. "We just continually cycle our equipment on roads and sidewalks and the winter cycling network as fast as we can."

The difficult conditions have meant slow and slippery commutes for drivers, with more than a dozen ending up in ditches.

The snow's had a major effect on OC Transpo as well. On Wednesday, the transit agency cancelled a number of buses and confirmed that nearly every route was experiencing weather-related delays.

Tow trucks were called in to pull buses up hills Wednesday afternoon because they couldn't make it on their own. Elsewhere, stalled buses blocked traffic, slowing down the entire transit system.

Tow trucks were pressed into service Wednesday when OC Transpo buses encountered difficulty making it up an incline on Lees Avenue. (Laura Osman/CBC)

One transit user captured the scene at Blair station this morning, where bus service ground to a halt as crowds amassed on the platform.

The good news: the snowfall is nearly behind us. The bad news: that snow will turn to freezing rain, ensuring conditions remain miserable for commuters.

Then the temperature will warm up just enough to melt the precipitation before the city falls back into a deep freeze by Thursday afternoon.

In other words, buckle up a week of perfectly awful commutes.

T is for terrible weather. Trinh Nguyen poses in front of the Ottawa sign on Sparks Street on a snowy Wednesday. (Laura Osman/CBC)