Large parts of Canada, particularly the east coast and Quebec, are bracing for a wintry blast this weekend amid widespread extreme cold weather warnings.
The federal government has issued a series of warnings for biting cold, high winds and heavy snow on its website.
On Thursday, Environment Canada warned of an “intense winter storm” slamming into Quebec and Atlantic Canada which could see at least 30 centimetres of snow.
A storm is forecast to descend on the Maritimes on Sunday and the New Brunswick government is warning residents to prepare for power outages.
“I think it’s going to be pretty severe,” Jules Michaud, an executive director for transportation and infrastructure in N.B., told CTV Atlantic. The New Brunswick government is warning people to stay off the roads if at all possible on Sunday to avoid the brunt of the storm.
Environment Canada said a low-pressure system approaching from the southwest will track across the Bay of Fundy, dumping between 20 and 60 centimetres of snow across much of the province. But central and northern New Brunswick will be hit the hardest with potentially 90-centimetres of snowfall.
The storm is also expected to deliver strong winds and freezing rain – with the latter of particular concern to NB Power, the province’s main utility.
Spokesperson Marc Belliveau said freezing rain is what they’re worried about most.
“It’s going to be a pretty significant storm,” he added.
But New Brunswick’s Department of Public Safety also cautioned residents to have well-stocked, 72-hour emergency kits in their homes and vehicles.
Toronto has been warned of snow and bitterly cold temperatures, with wind chill levels dropping as low as -30 C with moderate winds.
Much of southern Ontario will be on the northern fringe of a major winter storm tracking south off The Great Lakes, Environment Canada said.
“Periods of snow associated with this weather system will begin Saturday morning and taper off late Saturday night,” Environment Canada said in a statement.
“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery.”
An intense winter storm will bring significant amounts of snow and generate very strong and frigid northerly winds to the metro Montreal area through Monday.
“It will bring significant amounts of snow and generate very strong and frigid northerly winds producing blowing snow that will considerably reduce visibilities and make roadways very slippery,” Environment Canada said.
Extreme cold warnings have been issues throughout Quebec with some areas experiencing wind chill values near -50 C on Friday morning. But northern Quebec will likely escape the worst of it.
The expected scenario depends on the track of the storm which is still volatile and uncertain, the agency said.
And extreme cold warnings have been issued across Manitoba, Saskatchewan, and parts of northern Alberta and Nunavut.
Environment Canada warns people that they expect prolonged periods of cold winds, with some places experiencing -40 C when factoring in the wind chill.
Risks are greater for young children, the elderly and those with chronic illness, Environment Canada said.
Strong wind and heavy snowfall warnings are in place along Canada’s Pacific coast, including Vancouver Island.
Meteorologist Matt MacDonald told CTV Vancouver he is most concerned with the northern tip of the island: “There’s going to be some very strong southwesterly winds and those tend to be more damaging.”
Environment Canada warns parts of British Columbia could see gusts reach up to 110 km/h over the weekend, with other parts expected to be hit with up to 25 centimeteres of snowfall.