Provinces dig out of heavy snow as Toronto basks in record-breaking temperatures

Canada saw widely diverse weather on Saturday as Toronto residents basked in record-breaking warm temperatures while other regions were coping with an onslaught of snow that closed major highways and grounded flights.

Environment Canada said the temperature in Ontario’s capital climbed to 15 degrees Celsius at 3 p.m. That shattered the previous record for Jan. 12 of 9.5 degrees Celsius, said Glenn Robinson, an Environment Canada meteorologist.

Robinson said a deep low pressure system was moving across northern Ontario on Saturday, pulling up warm air from the Gulf of Mexico. He said the low was expected to stick around on Sunday until a cold front moved in from the northwest.

“That will be the end of the warm weather for us,” said Robinson from Toronto.

Meanwhile, a powerful storm that dumped about 20 centimetres of snow on southern Manitoba overnight Friday moved into northern Ontario Saturday.

Environment Canada meteorologist Dan Fulton said gusty winds were still causing blowing snow and poor visibility in some areas of Manitoba Saturday, with temperatures hovering around -20 degrees Celsius.

The blizzard led authorities to close several roads Friday evening, including the Trans-Canada Highway between Winnipeg and the Saskatchewan border, said Fulton.

Up to 30 centimetres of snow was expected by Saturday night in areas of northern Ontario including Sandy Lake, Kenora, Sioux Lookout and Fort Albany. Other regions, such as Moosonee, Manitouwadge and Nakina, were expecting freezing rain.

Plows in Newfoundland’s capital were handed the daunting task of clearing more than 50 centimetres of snow from roads after an intense blizzard blasted the region on Friday.

Paul Mackey, director of Public Works and Parks in St. John’s, said roads were accessible by at least one lane on Saturday morning, but widening the streets was expected to take several days.

“We’ve got a tremendous amount of snow on the ground and… the weather has turned milder since yesterday and now it’s getting very wet and heavy,” said Mackey from St. John’s on Saturday. “It’s a challenge to deal with, but we’re working our way through it”

Once roads are widened, snow will be trucked out of the coastal city’s downtown and dumped into the harbour, said Mackey. He estimated that would begin mid-week.

The St. John’s International Airport was expected to remain closed to air traffic until 12 a.m. Sunday, citing an “incredible amount” of heavy snow, its website said.

Michele Coughlan of Newfoundland Power said about 2,700 were still in the dark on the Avalon Peninsula and in central Newfoundland on Saturday afternoon, down from about 65,000 the day before.

The city’s airport had recorded wind gusts of more than 100 kilometres an hour and 48 centimetres of snow before it changed to freezing drizzle Friday.

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