Residents in Ontario and Quebec are being warned of a heavy snowstorm that is set to hit on Wednesday (Jan. 25) that will also deteriorate travel conditions at major airports.
In Ontario, snow will reportedly intensify during the morning and spread across Toronto by afternoon.
Snowfall rates could reach two or three cm per hour and winds will gust over 60 km/h near the Lake Ontario shore, which will create “near-zero visibility with blowing snow,” Global News reports.
The Weather Network reports that for many areas in southern Ontario, Wednesday's storm will “bring their heaviest snowfall of the year so far,” saying that a widespread 10-25 cm is expected.
The snow will taper to flurries by the Thursday morning across the GTA, the network forecasts.
For areas in eastern Ontario and into southern Quebec, from Ottawa to Montreal, 30 cm is possible with snowfall lingering through Thursday, reports say.
Meanwhile. Environment and Climate Change Canada has issued snowfall warnings for the Montreal area with 15 to 25 centimetres of accumulation expected.
Airlines warn travellers
The warnings trigger not-so-distant memories of the holiday travel season, during which a snowstorm slammed into British Columbia and Ontario, crippling airport and airline operations and impacting networks across the country.
Nonetheless, this is winter in Canada, and air carriers are doing their best to inform customers of what options they have if flights are delayed or cancelled.
“With a winter storm headed for Toronto (Pearson and Billy Bishop), Ottawa and Montreal, please check your flight's status before going to the airport at http://aircanada.com,” Air Canada posted to its Twitter account on Tuesday (Jan. 24). “A travel advisory is in effect permitting customers to make flight changes.”
With a snow advisory in effect, Air Canada has revised its ticketing policy so customers travelling on an affected flight can make changes to their booking without penalty “space permitting,” according to the airline’s website.
If a flight is affected, customers can retrieve a booking to change the flight free of charge.
WestJet has issued a storm advisory for travel for Jan. 25-26 in regions in southern Ontario and Montreal.
As such, flexible change/cancel guidelines kick in, which means WestJet will waive the applicable change or cancellation fee and customers have options for changing their travel dates (for complete details, click here).
“We advise all guests to check the status of their flights before leaving for the airport,” WestJet says. “If you made an air-only booking through a travel agent, please contact your travel agent directly.”
Sunwing, too, is advising of heavy snowfall and reduced visibility.
Travellers with flight departures on Jan, 25 and 26 are encouraged to sign up for flight alerts and check their flight status before travelling, and “should allow plenty of time to arrive at the airport,” the company wrote on its website on Tuesday.
“We are monitoring the weather forecast closely over the next 24-48 hours and will do all that we can to minimize disruptions to customers' travel plans,” Sunwing wrote.
And Porter Airlines has posted a snowstorm advisory.
Passengers can go to the My Bookings page to learn if their flight is eligible for complimentary changes.
A waiver may be issued for select flights, allowing passengers to change their bookings to fly earlier or later than scheduled, avoiding potential travel disruptions.
If a flight is cancelled or delayed by 15 minutes or more, a flight notification will be sent. Passengers on eligible flights will be able to change or cancel their bookings online without penalty, 'space permitting," Porter says.
Several systems will continue to bring rounds of snow to Ontario through next week, the Weather Network reports.
A “wintry pattern” will stay locked in for the final days of January and into early February, with an active setup expected to continue as the winter season takes shape.