Saturday, March 5, 2011

Rain, snow warnings issued from Ontario to N.B.

Rain, snow warnings issued from Ontario to N.B.

A pedestrian shields himself from rain under an umbrella in downtown Toronto Friday, March 4, 2011. (Darren Calabrese / THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Rainfall, snowfall and winter storm warnings are in effect from Ontario across to Atlantic Canada Saturday, calling for 24 hours of messy weather that may make travel dangerous.

According to Environment Canada, a major low pressure system from the United States will hover over eastern Ontario late Saturday before moving into Quebec early Sunday morning. The weather system will bring anywhere from 20 to 40 millimetres of rain or five to 10 centimetres of snow over a 24-hour period.

In parts of southern Ontario, light rain will change to snow as northerly winds kick up in the region. There is also a risk of freezing rain.

"The warning criteria is 25 mm within 24 hours (fairly conservative criteria) based on the fact that runoff is more significant in areas where snow pack is minimal and the ground is still frozen," the agency said.

Winter storm warnings have been issued for parts of northern Ontario, where both heavy snow and "patchy freezing rain" are expected to continue into Saturday evening. Snowfall amounts could reach 10 centimetres before the snow tapers off overnight.

Winter storm and rainfall warnings are also in effect for parts of southern Quebec, where the storm system is expected to arrive in the early morning hours Sunday. Some areas could see between 20 and 30 cm before the storm passes through.

As the weather system moves eastward, it could bring as much as 25 cm of snow and 45 mm of rain to parts of northern and western New Brunswick through Sunday night and into Monday.

The weather system has been working its way eastward since Thursday night, when Ontario Provincial Police in western Ontario responded to 90 collisions linked to freezing rain. Police say most were caused by motorists driving too quickly for the icy conditions and following other vehicles too closely.

With files from The Canadian Press