Record-breaking snow possible in Ottawa, surrounding region

Monday's storm is expected to bring unusually heavy snow for this time of year — while Transit Commission Chair Allan Hubley says LRT trains might run overnight to keep tracks clear.

More than 10 cm of snow could fall — and hamper Tuesday commutes

Ottawa is expected to get 10 centimetres or more of snow starting late Monday afternoon, Environment Canada says. (Marc-André Cossette/CBC)

A storm is bringing unusually heavy snow for this time of year in eastern Ontario.

The snow began falling in Ottawa this afternoon after starting earlier in the day closer to Kingston, Ont.

Environment Canada expects Ottawa will see five to 10 centimetres of snow before midnight along with 20 km/h winds, with another two centimetres Tuesday morning.

It will continue to come down into Tuesday's commute, which will be the first time the city's light rail system will weather a significant snowfall. 

"We will probably run trains overnight to keep the tracks clear," said Transit Commission Chair Allan Hubley, adding that if the measure is implemented, the trains won't be ones the public can ride.

Blair Station undergoes winter construction in early 2019. Transit Commission Chair Allan Hubley said Monday that LRT workers have been preparing for this week's snowy weather. (City of Ottawa)

"It'll just be a train, maybe two trains going back and forth, depending on how heavy the snow is. Just whatever level's required so that the track and the overhead wire are kept clear."

Hubley said that while workers using snow-clearing equipment have received extra training to clear platforms and tracks, the "proof will be in the pudding" to see how LRT will fare against the snow.

"I won't be 100 per cent confident until I also see it work," he said. 

Record-breaking snowfall possible

Environment Canada meteorologist Peter Kimbell said that for drivers, he expects Tuesday morning's commute will be "very unpleasant."

"Everybody's going to be rushing off to work tomorrow in the first significant snowfall of the year, and I'm guessing many people [will still have] all-season tires on," he said.

The meteorologist said Monday's snowfall is something usually seen later in the year.

"What we're seeing today is a storm on Remembrance Day that's more typical for December," Kimbell said.

"We might come close to breaking a record for snowfall [in Ottawa] on this date."

(Environment Canada)

That record of 5.2 centimetres in 1983 goes back to the start of Environment Canada's records in 1938, as does Kingston's record of six centimetres that same year.

Ottawa's Nov. 12 record of 12.2 centimetres is not expected to fall.

Worse along St. Lawrence 

Areas south and east of Ottawa near the St. Lawrence River should have even more snow.

Snowfall warnings are in effect for Cornwall, Brockville and surrounding areas which could see up to 15 centimetres of snow.

The rest of the region, besides Pembroke and the Outaouais, have weather advisories about the snowfall, one step before a weather watch.

Pembroke is expected to get two to four centimetres, with Maniwaki expecting 10 centimetres.

Highway 401 in Brockville, Ont., at about 2:30 p.m. Nov. 11, 2019. (MTO)

A spokesperson for the Ottawa International Airport urged passengers to leave extra time to get to the airport and check with airlines to see if their flight information has changed.

In Ottawa, temperatures will plunge to about –8 C by Tuesday morning, with the wind chill making it feel around –16. It could feel as chilly as –20 in Pembroke.

By Tuesday night, it will be –15 C before wind chill is factored in.

With files from CBC Ottawa's Hillary Johnstone


To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.