Thursday, January 29, 2009

Flights delayed at Vancouver Airport as winter storms hammer Central Canada

Vancouver Airport reported delays for flights leaving to and from Central Canada on Wednesday as that region was hammered by winter storms.

Dozens of flight cancellations and delays were reported in Ottawa, Toronto and Montreal as Environment Canada issued winter storm warnings from southwestern Ontario through to Quebec City.

Central Canadians can expect up to 30 centimetres of snow Wednesday as a deep pressure system blows across the Great Lakes from the U.S.

By midmorning, about 200 flights had been cancelled at Pearson airport according to a spokesman for the Greater Toronto Airport Authority.

Scott Armstrong said most of those flights were arriving from Eastern Canada and the northeasternUnited States.

Airports in Edmonton, Calgary, and Vancouver all reported delays for flights leaving to and from Central Canada.

Many school boards cancelled bus service, particularly in the rural areas around Ottawa and Toronto.

Motorists in Ottawa, now on the 50th day of the city’s transit strike, were being cautioned by police to drive slowly during the afternoon commute when the snowfall is expected to be heaviest.

The latest snowfall could lead to flooding in suburban Montreal, after the water level of the Riviere des Prairies rose 25 cm on Monday due to the deep cold last week.

About 90 homes in Laval would be threatened if the river crests its banks. Emergency workers have put up dikes in the areas and sandbags are available for homeowners under threat.

David Phillips, anEnvironment Canada meteorologist, said the “major weather system” was hitting the U.S. harder, with freezing rain and snow reaching as far south as Texas.

He said the current snowstorms wouldn’t linger in any area longer than 18 hours. “It’s not going to bring out the army,” Philips said. “The best thing about Canadian weather is that it hits and runs.”

The system is expected to have blown through southern Ontario by Wednesday evening, but will wallop much of Quebec before turning setting its sights on the Maritimes.

Winter storm warnings have already been issued in advance across all of New Brunswick.

Wind gusts of up to 130 km/h will throttle southwestern Newfoundland and northern Nova Scotia Thursday morning ahead of expected 10 cm snowfalls.

The most significant snowfall Wednesday, however, is likely to smother the northern coastal regions of B.C., where up to 40 cm are likely.

Farther south on the coast, Vancouver and Victoria are to experience highs of around five degrees above freezing Wednesday, with similarly moderate temperatures for the rest of the week.

However, Calgarians will get some of the best weather in the country through to Friday, with clear skies and temperatures as high as 12 C before the weekend.

Light snowfall is expected across much of Saskatchewan, while Winnipeg will maintain its winter reputation with lows of -24 C Wednesday and -23 C on Thursday.

Bone-chilling cold has descended upon much of Canada’s North, with a low of -37 C with the wind chill reported in Iqaluit and -28 C in Yellowknife.