Southern Ontario, southern Quebec and parts of the Maritimes may face a one-two punch of ice pellets and freezing rain this weekend as two storms track toward the Great Lakes from Texas, bringing the possibility of a major ice storm.
The first storm should be rolling into Ontario Thursday evening and through southern Quebec that night, bringing a mix of snow, ice pellets and freezing rain. Regions of southwestern Ontario and into the Greater Toronto Area are expected to see the messiest mix overnight tonight and into Friday morning, with regions north of a line from the Bruce Peninsula into eastern Ontario getting mostly snow.
Southwestern Quebec could see some ice pellets and freezing rain closer to the U.S. border.
These conditions will likely create slippery, potentially dangerous driving conditions Thursday night and through Friday morning's commute. Motorists should check road conditions before venturing out and drive cautiously. Any freezing rain or ice pellets in southern Ontario could become just rain Friday afternoon, but should switch back Friday night as the temperature drops again.
Flights, during one of the busiest travel times of the year, could be affected by the freezing rain as well. Anyone travelling into or out of southern Ontario or southern Quebec on Friday should check the status of their flight before leaving.
After what should be a short break from the messy weather on Saturday, a second storm will press into southern Ontario late in the day or into the evening, and this is the one causing the most concern.
According to Environment Canada, there's still some uncertainty in the track of this storm but "it appears that areas along the Highway 401 corridor have the greatest likelihood for significant freezing rain amounts."
For areas affected by this second shot of freezing rain, there will undoubtedly be even more of an impact on travel, both on the roads and for flights. There is also concern about the potential for widespread power outages. Ice-laden tree branches can snap, taking down power lines in the process. Ice buildup on the power lines themselves is capable of weighing them down enough to snap them from their poles, and as we saw during the 1998 ice storm in eastern Ontario and southwestern Quebec, even electrical towers can be brought down if enough freezing rain falls on one area.
There's no indication yet if things will actually get that bad. However, as the saying goes, "forewarned is forearmed."