The Greater Toronto Area is bracing for a storm system that’s expected to come in two waves and threatens to include a nightmarish mix of snow, rain and freezing rain.
Environment Canada issued a freezing rain warning for parts of southern Ontario, including the GTA and Hamilton on Thursday afternoon at around 3.30 p.m. It remains in effect.
As of 11 p.m. Thursday, rain was already falling in the Niagara area, and it was snowing in Kitchener, Guelph and at Pearson Airport in Toronto.
Fluctuations in temperatures will determine if we get a simple dusting of snow, or a more dreaded dose of frozen rain.
CityNews meteorologist Natasha Ramsahai forecasts a bit of both.
“We are looking at a few centimetres of wet snow…followed by ice,” she said. “Tomorrow morning’s commute is going to be a slow one…but I think the afternoon commute is going to worse as that freezing rain really picks up in intensity.”
The rain, which may be mixed with ice pellets, is expected to taper to freezing drizzle on Friday evening and end Saturday morning.
An ice storm is also possible late Saturday into Sunday morning.
The storm coincides with one of the busiest travel times at Pearson Airport and there have already been advisories and some cancellations.
Toronto Hyrdo is also preparing for possible outages due to downed trees and power lines from ice.
“We have our emergency operation in place, we have crews on standby,” said spokesperson Tanya Bruckmueller.
“If it’s snow then it’s normal operations but if it’s freezing rain expect longer than normal power outages.”
On Saturday, there is a risk for early morning freezing rain, followed by a brief break from the precipitation – but it will pick up again in the afternoon.
The freezing rain mixed with rain will be most intense on Saturday night, Ramsahai said.
The Kitchener-Waterloo area through to Hamilton, Toronto, York-Durham and Peterborough could see an addition 10 millimetres of ice accumulation.
On Sunday morning, the GTA will see rain mixed with freezing rain, which will taper to flurries by midday. The storm – or storms – will end late Sunday night and then we’re back to cold and snow squalls.
Environment Canada warns that two storm systems originating in Texas are expected to track towards the lower Great Lakes. One is expected to start late Thursday night and continue into Friday.
Some of the precipitation associated with this storm system is expected to hit southwestern Ontario on Thursday evening and will reach the rest of southern Ontario by Friday morning.
Storm No. 2 is on tap to bring freezing rain across southern Ontario late in the day on Saturday and through Sunday. There is also the possibility for significant snow and ice pellets from Lake Huron to the Quebec border.
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