Dubbed SantaBomb on social media, news of the developing system has stoked fears that Toronto may see a near repeat of 2013’s major ice storm that knocked out power in some places for more than week and ruined holiday plans across the region.
But based on current projections, that is an extremely unlikely scenario, said CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland. What is likely, according to Scotland, is high winds and possibly some heavy rain in the GTA. However, it is still far too early to forecast how much precipitation will fall or how powerful winds might be.
There are currently two separate systems that could influence what transpires — one that is moving eastward from the Rockies and another that is moving northward up the east coast of the United States. The systems could converge or remain distinct, and both scenarios would result in different weather patterns.
Again — it's just too early to tell, said Scotland. However it is likely that parts of the northeastern U.S., southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes will be affected.
Rain is expected to begin in the GTA on Dec. 23 or Christmas Eve, but an anticipated drop in temperature could mean that rains turn to snow by Christmas Day. Strong winds could result in localized power outages, and cause difficulties for travellers and areas north of the city could see significant lake effect snow as well, Scotland said.
But Scotland and Environment Canada meteorologists warn that the storm is still about six days away — making any precises predictions nearly impossible.
"As we get closer to Christmas, we'll have a much better idea of what to expect," said Scotland. He recommends that anyone worried about travelling during that time begin checking-in with weather services on Monday and prepare for longer-than-normal travel times.
The name SantaBomb is inspired by natural events known as weather bombs, which have a specific meteorological definition based on how fast a storm intensifies over a 24-hour period. It is theoretically possible that next week's storm could be a 'bomb,' Scotland said, but nobody will know for sure until it happens.