01/13/2012 02:14 EST | Updated 03/14/2012 05:12 EDT

Wintry blast sweeps Eastern Canada

A pair of competing weather systems is making roads treacherous and causing flight delays across a stretch of the country from southwestern Ontario to Halifax.

Heavy snow claimed at least one life on the East Coast after a car driven by a 57-year-old woman slid off the road in southern New Brunswick on Thursday evening, RCMP said.

Freezing rain caused dozens of collisions on roads in the Ottawa region Friday, but no serious injuries were reported. A dozen flights were cancelled and at least 15 others were delayed at Ottawa International Airport.

Environment Canada said the area could be hit with 10 centimetres of snow, with temperatures feeling like –20 with the wind chill.

In Nova Scotia, the snowstorm caused flight delays and cancellations at Halifax airport, school closures in Cape Breton and a power outage in Antigonish County.

"Winter has arrived late, and with a bang," CBC meteorologist Johanna Wagstaffe said.

Two colliding low-pressure systems from the Prairies and Texas are responsible for the wintry weather, she said.

Dozens of collisions

The results in the Toronto area were a mix of wind, rain and light snow, causing major headaches for drivers. Ontario Provincial Police Sgt. Dave Woodford said collision calls were coming in at a rate of about one a minute during the height of the morning rush, but no serious injuries were reported.

Plummeting temperatures in Toronto also led city officials to issue an extreme cold weather alert for the city.

In southwestern Ontario, a six-vehicle collision closed Highway 401 eastbound at Drumbo, but no serious injuries were reported.

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement covering southern Ontario from Windsor, north to Owen Sound and east to Kingston, advising of gusty winds and snowfall of between three and 15 centimetres.

Forecasters said that Arctic air blasting into the region will generate lake effect flurries, covering roads already slippery from overnight rains. The statement warned motorists to be prepared for hazardous conditions due to blowing snow and accumulating snow on the roads.

In Kingston, several thousand residents were reportedly still without power after freezing rain fell on the area Thursday.

As the weather system moved east, snow and freezing rain created messy driving conditions across much of Quebec, leading some schools to cancel classes.

Quebec provincial police said the weather was a factor in about 50 collisions overnight in Montreal, Laval and the Laurentians.