The balmy fall weather that’s lasted into November for most of northwestern Ontario is set to end with the first snowstorm of the year expected to roll through today and into tomorrow.
Much of the region is under snowfall and freezing rain warning as of Thursday morning, with other sections of the northwest under special weather statements as severe weather is expected to hit Friday.
Atikokan, Thunder Bay, Kakabeka Falls, Nipigon, Marathon, and White River areas are expecting freezing rain and ice pellets this morning and into this evening. Snow is also expected tonight and into Friday.
Environment Canada is forecasting total snow and ice pellet accumulation of five to 10 centimetres.
Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots will become icy, slippery and hazardous, according to the weather agency.
“It’s a good time to start preparing the car emergency kit or truck emergency kit, jumper cables, a couple of extra blankets, things that can keep you warm if you run into trouble,” explained Geoff Coulson, a meteorologist with Environment Canada.
Snowfall warning in place
Kenora, Dryden, Ignace, Rainy Lake, and Fort Frances areas are all under a snowfall or winter storm warning. According to Environment Canada, areas in the west are expecting total snowfall accumulations of 15 to 25 centimetres.
The agency is also warning of strong wind gusts leading to localized blowing snow, reduced visibility in heavy snow and blowing snow, along with snowfall rates of near 2 centimetres per hour.
Areas further north, including Sioux Lookout, Greenstone, and Manitouwadge are under a weather advisory as snow and ice pellets are expected to hit that part of the region later today and into Friday.
Last winter and early spring saw a number of storms roll through northwestern Ontario, leading to a deep snowpack and contributing to spring floods.
Shovelling services looking to get programs underway, but volunteers needed
As winter weather touches down in the region, programs like Thunder Bay’s Snow Angels volunteer snow shovelling service are ramping up.
The program matches volunteers to senior clients, usually within the same neighborhood. The Snow Angels shovel walkways, and porches. About 100 seniors in Thunder Bay are looking for Snow Angels this year.
“Volunteers are asked to go to the houses within 48 hours of a snowfall of about three to five centimetres or more and shovel the walkways and the porches so that there’s accessibility to and from the home,” explained, Tessa Hettrick, volunteer coordinator with the City of Thunder Bay.
Hettrick said the city is hopeful each client will be matched up with a volunteer. She said they’re looking to kick the program off as soon as possible, especially with the winter weather on the way.
“Programs like this are extremely important. As we all know northern Ontario, we can get quite the large amount of snow,” said Hettrick.
“To be able to have older adults stay in their home as long as possible is extremely important to to everybody,” she said. “If we are able to help them have access to and from their home by simply shoveling their walkways, we find we see that as a very huge bonus to allow them to have that access.
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