Snow, poor travel conditions forecast for southern Ontario this weekend
Toronto forecast to get 2 to 4 cm of snow overnight, with another 2 to 4 cm on Sunday
Much of southern Ontario, including parts of the Greater Toronto Area, are under special weather statements and advisories warning of snow and poor travel conditions throughout the weekend.
Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement for parts of Halton and Peel regions and areas north and west of Toronto, calling for periods of snow to "gradually develop" through Saturday that will continue into Sunday.
Total weekend snowfall amounts could hit between 10 and 15 cm, the federal weather agency said.
On top of that, a "sharp Arctic cold front" is expected to hit the region on Sunday afternoon, sending temperatures plummeting and making "snow-covered roads rather icy."
"Motorists should allow extra time to reach their destination especially on Sunday, with particular heed to slippery road conditions," the weather agency said.
As of late afternoon Saturday, the City of Toronto was not included in the weather statements and advisories. However, the Environment Canada forecast calls for periods of snow to begin sometime after midnight, with accumulations of between 2 cm and 4 cm.
Periods of wet snow are forecast to continue into Sunday, with a further 2 to 4 cm set to fall. While Sunday's forecast high for the city is 2 C, the temperature is set to plunge to –13 C by evening.
Earlier Saturday, city crews were out monitoring the roads in anticipation of the winter weather. As roads and sidewalks meet the threshold for salting and plowing, resources will be ready to be deployed, said Mark Mills, superintendent of road operations with the City of Toronto.
"We always prepare for the worst, hope for the best," Mills told CBC Toronto.
Plowing begins on main roads when snowfall totals hit 5 cm, he said. Expressways have to see 2.5 cm of snow, and local roads 8 cm. High-pedestrian sidewalks get plowed with 2 cm of snow, while sidewalks with low pedestrian traffic are plowed with accumulations of 8 cm, Mills said.
Some 600 road plows, 300 sidewalk plows and 200 salt trucks are at the ready, he said, adding that although it's been a busy winter for city crews, they are at the ready "24/7."
"We have had a busier winter than we have had previously in the last year or two. Mother Nature sometimes will get the upper hand," Mills said. "But we are a persistent bunch and we will eventually keep working and get those roads to where they need to be."
'Weak' low-pressure system to blame
The snow is "courtesy" of a low-pressure system that was over the Dakotas on Saturday that is forecast to track across Georgian Bay early Sunday before moving on to Quebec.
"Although it is a relatively weak system, it will absorb some moisture from the Great Lakes tonight and Sunday," the weather statement said.
Meanwhile, weather advisories are in effect for areas east of Toronto, including Pickering, Oshawa and east into Prince Edward County and beyond. The advisory calls for "bands of lake effect snow over Lake Ontario" to shift north and affect parts of the Highway 401 corridor between Newcastle and Brockville.
"Travel conditions are expected to quickly deteriorate in some areas with sudden reduced visibilities and icy road conditions," the advisory said.
"Motorists are advised to exercise caution."