NEWS

Western Canada hit by blast of winter weather

01/17/2012 07:00 EST | Updated 03/18/2012 05:12 EDT

Frigid temperatures and wind chill warnings have people bundling up across Western Canada, while people in parts of Ontario and Quebec are dealing with snow and freezing rain.

In Alberta, cold Arctic air was blanketing much of the province. Environment Canada issued wind chill warnings for a broad swath of the province, including Edmonton, where wind chill values of –40 to –50 were expected to develop overnight and last through Wednesday morning.

Forecasters urged people to monitor the conditions and dress appropriately.

"At these extreme wind chill values frostbite on exposed skin may occur in less than 10 minutes," Environment Canada said.

The winter weather caused delays at the Calgary airport Tuesday, prompting both Air Canada and WestJet to issue travel alerts advising travellers of weather-related delays.

Some airports in the east could see delays as well, WestJet said, noting that a winter storm warnings were announced for Ottawa, Montreal and Halifax.

In B.C., snowfall warnings have been dropped for Vancouver, Victoria and the southern Gulf Islands, but heavy snow and wind in the Fraser Valley forced several school closures and created dangerous road conditions in many areas.

In the interior, Highway 3 was closed in both directions from Sparwood to the Alberta border because of limited visibility and blowing snow.

The winter weather prompted Environment Canada to issue a variety of weather warnings for much of the North and Central Coast and Haida Gwaii.

"The strong outflow winds in combination with the cold temperatures are producing wind chill values near –20 degrees or below to the northern and central B.C. coasts," Environment Canada said.

Large parts of the central Interior and Yoho Park were under wind chill warnings, and a snowfall warning was in effect in the Elk Valley area of the southeastern Interior.

The Prairies were also experiencing a deep freeze, as frigid temperatures swept through Saskatchewan and Manitoba. In Saskatoon, temperatures dropped to –32 C, while Regina saw temperatures of –27 C.

In Manitoba, Arctic air spread across the southern half of the province, and it was even colder in the north.

In Winnipeg, the temperature plunged to –25 C, with light snow expected through the evening. The temperature in Thompson was even lower, at –32 C, and a wind chill warning was in effect.

Snow, freezing rain

Meanwhile, an area of low pressure continues to move out of Ontario through Quebec bearing down on the Maritimes, CBC weather specialist Jay Scotland said Tuesday afternoon.

In the Ottawa-Gatineau region, snowplows and salt trucks were expected to be out through the night as the city dealt with a mix of snow, ice and freezing rain.

"Snow and ice pellets amounts up to 10 centimetres are likely, along with some ice buildup due to freezing rain," Environment Canada said.

Conditions in the Ottawa-Gatineau area were expected to improve overnight as the area of low pressure passes into Quebec.

In Quebec, many communities were already under wind, freezing rain or snowfall warnings. In Montreal, snow and rain were causing headaches for snow cleanup crews.

Environment Canada warned of blowing snow and reduced visibility in the Quebec City area, which was under a winter storm warning.

In Toronto, the temperature was higher but weather was still a problem for some — Toronto's Pearson airport saw cancellations due to fog blanketing the American northeast.

CBC meteorologist Nick Czernkovich said winds picked up in the Toronto area Tuesday evening as the temperature dropped.

"Watch for icy road in and around the GTA," Czernkovich said.

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