Snowstorm blasts Eastern Canada, delaying travel

A major winter storm that began in the U.S. South and has been linked to numerous deaths is pounding parts of Eastern Canada, prompting storm warnings and flight cancellations while burying some areas under record amounts of snow.

Flight cancellations, delays build up as Montreal sees record snowfall

Eastern Canada snowed under

10 years ago
Duration 4:01
A major winter storm that began in the U.S. South pounds parts of Eastern Canada, prompting storm warnings and flight cancellations while burying some areas under record amounts of snow

A major winter storm that began in the U.S. South and has been linked to numerous deaths is pounding parts of Eastern Canada, prompting storm warnings and flight cancellations while burying some areas under record amounts of snow.

In Montreal, officials said 43 centimetres of snow had fallen so far at Montreal's Trudeau airport. A spokesman for the city said it could take more than four days to remove the snow.

CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said the highest snowfall totals are expected south and east of the St. Lawrence, with Environment Canada saying there could be up to 50 centimetres in portions of southern Quebec, including Montreal. Montreal's previous record snowfall for this date was 37.8 centimetres in 1969.

Environment Canada had posted winter storm warnings for Ontario's Niagara region, eastern Ontario, southern Quebec and much of northern New Brunswick, along with parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island. Warnings in Ontario for areas stretching from Picton to Kingston and Brockville were lifted shortly after 9:30 a.m. ET.

The storm was expected to dump 15 to 20 centimetres of snow in areas of eastern Ontario along the St. Lawrence River.

The areas of Renfrew, Pembroke, Smiths Falls, Ottawa, Prescott and Russell, and Gatineau were all under a snowfall warning, with Environment Canada predicting an accumulation of 15 centimetres Thursday.

By Thursday afternoon, some areas of Nova Scotia were seeing the effects of storm. Environment Canada said Halifax and the southwest region could expect high winds of up to 100 km/h, and some snow turning to rain.

Digby, Yarmouth, Shelburne and Queens counties could expect up to 35 millimetres of rain by Thursday evening, while the northeast section of Nova Scotia could expect 10 centimetres of snow.

Snow and blowing snow hit southwestern New Brunswick Thursday afternoon. The storm will spread north and east by late in the evening with 15 to 30 centimetres of snow expected and a strong east to northeast wind in much of the province.

In southern areas, snow will be mixed with ice pellets and change to rain later in the day and into Thursday night.

Warnings also covered all of New Brunswick and western Prince Edward Island. Parts of Nova Scotia were under a winter storm watch, and there was a rainfall warning for southern portions of the province.

The storm was expected to move to Newfoundland and Labrador with strong winds beginning Thursday night and peaking on Friday. Snowfall totals for the inland portions of the south and west coasts are expected to top 10 centimetres by Saturday morning, with 15 centimetres of accumulation by the end of Saturday for central and northeastern Newfoundland.

Travel troubles

Roads throughout the Toronto region, where about 10 centimetres were on the ground, as well as the Montreal area were mostly snow covered.

A dog braves the wintry weather in downtown Toronto on Thursday, after an onslaught of snow hit the city overnight and into the early morning. (John Rieti/CBC)

Ontario Provincial Police reported dozens of accidents on highways in the Greater Toronto Area.

CBC Montreal weather specialist Sabrina Maradola reported reduced visibility and slick conditions on the city's streets with cars getting stuck in the snow or veering off roads.

"If you don't have to go out, if you are on holiday, take advantage and do stay home today," she said. "It's not the best day to be on the roads."

Montreal police recommended that people stay home to make way for emergency vehicles. Police spokesman Danny Richer said several roads were being blocked off and on in downtown Montreal to allow snowblowers to go through and clear off the snow. Road closures include University Street, Papineau Avenue, D'Iberville Street and Sherbrooke Street.

Montreal's airport authority blamed dozens of flight cancellations on the bad weather. As of 3 p.m. ET, 134 arrivals and departures had been cancelled at Trudeau airport. Most were headed for Toronto or other destinations in the northeastern United States. Officials said strong winds in Montreal were the main cause of the cancellations.

A snowplow in downtown Toronto Thursday pushes aside wet overnight snow, the city's first major snowfall of 2012. The storm moved east to Montreal, where it was set to break a record. (John Rieti/CBC)

At Canada's busiest airport, Pearson in suburban Toronto, 53 arriving flights and 66 departures were cancelled by 12:42 p.m. Thursday, while many more flights were delayed. There were also cancellations reported at airports in Ottawa and Montreal.

On the East Coast, driving conditions have already started to deteriorate due to blowing snow. The New Brunswick Emergency Measures Organization were asking that people stay off the roads altogether, giving the plows a chance to do their job. The ferry that runs from Saint John to Digby, N.S., was cancelled for the day in anticipation of the storm.

Thousands of homes are without power as states report record amounts of snowfall.

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National Weather Service spokesman David Roth said the U.S. northeast's heaviest snowfall would be in northern Pennsylvania, upstate New York and inland sections of several New England states before the storm ends Friday morning.

More than 30 tornadoes were reported, arriving with little warning on Christmas Day in the Gulf Coast region.

For more information on local storm conditions, please check your CBC local website:

With files from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press