Toronto could get a record-breaking amount of snow starting Wednesday, according to a snowfall warning issued by Environment Canada on Tuesday.
The agency is warning that a Texas low will bring a “significant” snowstorm that could reduce visibility and impact travel plans for Torontonians this week.
Similar weather alerts are in effect for the Peel, York, Halton, and Durham regions.
Toronto has enjoyed a fairly mild winter so far, with some unseasonably warm albeit gloomy temperatures, but all that is expected to change starting mid-week.
Here’s what we know about the storm so far.
When will the snow start to fall?
Environment Canada meteorologist Steve Flisfeder said that snow will start falling across Toronto during a 24-hour period, beginning around noon on Wednesday, with the heaviest bands to hit the city in the afternoon through to the early evening.
Toronto could see anywhere from 15 to 20 centimetres of snow.
Snowfall rates should start reducing by 8-9 pm until early Thursday morning, he said.
Toronto’s snowfall on Wednesday could beat the previous daily record for Jan. 25, when 7.8 centimeters fell on that day in 2005.
Flisfeder said that residents should brace for worse conditions than last December’s “weather bomb,” which derailed travel plans and gatherings during the holidays.
It’s a very different storm. In terms of snowfall amounts, it’s likely to be higher than most people in Toronto saw at the end of December. In terms of impacts, it could be a little more than what a lot of people in and around Toronto saw. There’s going to be a heavier band occurring tomorrow afternoon during the rush hours.” Flisfeder warned about difficult driving conditions and urged people to drive safely.
“Air travel is a different story,” Flisfeder said, “It’s going to be a matter of how the snow removal on the runways can keep up with the snowfall rates.”
A Texas low, similar to a Colorado low, is a “low pressure system” that travels from the Texas area northeast towards Ontario, Flisfeder explained.
Which parts of Ontario will be hit the hardest?
Similar weather statements and advisories have been issued around the province, as parts of Eastern Ontario may expect 20-25cm of snow in total.
Snowfall warnings are currently in effect for the York and Durham regions as well as the city of Hamilton.
Areas in Newmarket, Vaughan, Richmond Hill, Markha, Pickering, Oshawa, and Uxbridge are also expected to see upwards of 15 to 20 centimetres starting Wednesday into Thursday.
Similar snowfall warnings and special weather bulletins have been issued for most of Southern Ontario.
How long is the storm expected to last?
On Wednesday, Toronto should see cloudy skies with wind gusts and heavy snow of up to 5-10 centimetres starting around noon and continuing into the evening. The high will be 1 C, feeling like with -8 C with wind chill in the morning.
The brunt of the storm is expected to hit Wednesday evening and drivers should prepare for a slippery and messy commute home.
On Thursday, the agency is expecting snow to taper off into flurries with a high of -4 C. Late and overnight snowfall could still mean slick roads for commuters Thursday morning.
The skies should clear up by Thursday evening, as the temperatures fall to a low of — 9 C.
On Friday, Environment Canada predicts the forecast will be partly sunny with only 30 per cent chance of fluorries and a high of 0 C.
What is Toronto’s plan to deal with the storm?
A liquid salt brine will be sprayed along all expressways, arterial and collector roads, including bridges and steep hills in Toronto tonight.
City Hall said salting would begin as soon as the snow accumulates.
Plowing will be scattered across the city, with clean-up starting in expressways when the snow reaches the 2.5 centimetres, then it will move to major roads, transit routes and hilled streets when the snow accumulates up to the five centimetres mark.
Residential roads will be plowed when the snow hits eight centimetres, while sidewalks and bike lanes will be cleared when the snow reaches two centimetres.
Residents are asked to avoid parking vehicles on the road, which could delay clearing.
Non-essential travel is discouraged. Srivers are advised to slow down behind the wheel and stay a safe distance from other vehicles and snow-clearing crews.
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