Storm could bring 10 to 15 millimetres of ice to Ottawa today

School buses and some flights are cancelled in Ottawa today, as a “significant” freezing rain storm is expected to bring up to 15 millimetres of ice to the region.

Hydro Ottawa says crews are on a standby for possible power outages and damaged hydro infrastructure due to the threat of freezing rain and ice build up.

Environment Canada has issued a freezing rain warning for Ottawa and eastern Ontario, calling for a “prolonged period of freezing rain” before the precipitation changes to rain later today.

“Ice pellets and freezing rain are expected to develop early this morning and continue for much of the day before temperatures rise above the freezing mark,” Environment Canada said in a statement.

“Some areas may see several hours of freezing rain, which may lead to power outages and tree damage. Thunderstorms are also possible.”

The weather agency expects ice pellets and freezing rain to begin falling at approximately 8 a.m.

“You’re not going to miss it; the only question that really remains is how much of that precipitation will fall as the ice pellets, the freezing rain or rain? We’re going to get all three,” Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips told CTV Morning Live.

“Pick your poison, but I think you probably want more rain than the freezing rain.”

Phillips says a Colorado low is moving northward, and will bump into cold air in the northern part of Ontario, bringing the ice pellets to freezing rain to Ottawa.

“This one seems like a prolonged bout of it,” Phillips said about the weather.

All school buses in Ottawa and eastern Ontario are cancelled for the day, while the Western Quebec School Board says all schools are closed in the Outaouais region due to the storm.

Several flights have been cancelled at the Ottawa International Airport. Travellers are advised to check their flight status before heading to the airport.

The freezing rain warning covers Belleville, Kingston, Brockville, Prescott, Mallorytown, Kemptville, Westport, Cornwall, Morrisburg, Alexandria, Russell, Arnprior, Renfrew, Pembroke, Petawawa, Barry’s Bay and Killaloe.

Phillips predicts this will be “winter’s last hurrah” for Ottawa and eastern Ontario.

“We see these temperatures come on the weekend of 14, 17 degrees for a high. When you start beating winter up it doesn’t kind of return,” Phillips says.”My sense is it’s really going to go out in a big bang, but strong winds, a threat of freezing rain, ice pellets.”

OC Transpo

OC Transpo is warning commuters that bus and Para Transpo service may be delayed today due to the freezing rain and slippery road conditions.

“Plan your trip and be cautious when boarding, exiting, and at station platforms.”

Hydro Ottawa

Hydro Ottawa says it is prepared in the event the storm causes power outages and damage to the hydro infrastructure today.

“We’ve spent most of the day preparing for the worst-case conditions, although we’re feeling pretty confident right now that we’re not going to run into too many problems,” Joseph Muglia, director of systems operations with Hydro Ottawa, told Newstalk 580 CFRA on Tuesday. “At this point, we’ve got all of our personnel ready to go; we’re just waiting on the weather now.”

Muglia says the mix of freezing rain turning to ice pellets could lead to ice buildup on infrastructure like power lines.

“With any ice buildup, the overhead conductors are what concerns us the most,” he said. “But I would not say there’s any area of more concern in the city than others.”

Gatineau Park

All trails and parking lots are closed in Gatineau Park today due to the freezing rain in the forecast.

“Trails may be slippery and fallen tree branches could be hazardous for the public,” the National Capital Commission said.

“Our crews will assess, secure and clear NCC’s sites as soon as possible. This may take some time. Please remain patient and vigilant, and do not try to clear the sites yourselves.”

Algonquin College

Algonquin College says all classes at its Pembroke campus are cancelled today due to the freezing rain. The campus remains open.

All classes at the Ottawa and Perth campuses will proceed as scheduled.

“Learners and Employees who are unable to attend campus due to weather conditions should contact their program coordinator and/or teacher to discuss accommodation,” Algonquin College said in a statement.


Ice pellets or freezing rain today, changing to freezing rain near 12 p.m. Ice pellet amounts 2 to 4 cm. High 0 C.

Rain tonight. Risk of freezing rain and a thunderstorm this evening. Local rainfall amounts 10 to 20 mm. Temperature rising to +2 C by Thursday morning.

A mix of sun and cloud on Thursday. High 10 C.

The outlook for Good Friday calls for a mix of sun and cloud, with a high of + 3 C.

Sunshine is in the forecast for Saturday and Sunday.

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