An update from the City's Roads & Parking Services Department.
This morning Ottawa woke up to heavy snow, wet and icy conditions. Thursday evening the major winter storm we’ve been tracking made landfall in Ottawa and teams had already been well underway doing proactive work along our transportation network. Working through the night, our focus was on maintaining our priority sidewalks, roads and the winter cycling network.
With recent increased certainty towards the path and strength of this major storm event, Environment Canada has upgraded its alert for the City, and Ottawa is now under a Winter Storm Warning. However – one thing remains uncertain, and that is what type of precipitations the City will see through the next stage of this event.
The Significant Weather Event (SWE) remains in effect for Ottawa and the challenging conditions means that it will take us longer than usual to treat and clear the network. The Office of Emergency Management remains engaged in a “Monitoring” status from a response escalation perspective and is ready to coordinate a Citywide response if necessary.
Travelling through the course of this major winter storm should be limited to essential reasons. Walking, driving, or cycling on our network during this time is not recommended and should only be done by adjusting to the conditions of the transportation network.
Forecast and Conditions
Thursday night the event began with snow mixed with rain, ice pellets, and freezing rain. During the overnight hours, precipitations were met with wind gusts that swept through parts of the City at 40 to 60 kilometres an hour, causing blowing and drifting snow to cover areas of our network that had already been treated and cleared. Between 5 to 10 centimetres of snow accumulated in certain parts of the City, while precipitations continued to change through the overnight hours and the temperature hovered near the freezing point. Rain, freezing rain, snow and ice pellets fell, creating a wintery mix that made this morning’s travel very difficult to navigate. As the temperature continues to slightly increase throughout the course of this morning, rain will continue, and total rainfall levels could be anywhere from 15 to 20 millimetres, possibly more in some localized areas of the city.
This afternoon, forecast shows that winds will return with gusts reaching 80 kilometres an hour. The temperature is also expected to drop to -6 degrees Celsius, plunging several degrees in just a few hours. This sudden drop in temperature is an ideal environment for flash freezing conditions, conditions we will most likely see throughout the City. Water from rain and melted snow that remains on the network will freeze, creating dangerous traveling conditions. This drop of temperature means precipitations will also revert to snow that is expected to continue through to Saturday morning, along with the winds that are predicted to return this afternoon. When its all said and done, this stage of the event could bring another 5 to 15 centimetres of snow to Ottawa.
The City's Response
Our focus today will be to continue clearing and treating priority sidewalks, roads and the winter cycling network. The challenge we will be meeting is the continued fluctuating temperature and precipitations, as this pattern is commonly known to create ice build up on our network, conditions that are usually very difficult to manage.
Last night’s wintery mix caused for snow and ice that had accumulated on the residential network to stick to the surface of the road. To break that snow and ice bond, teams will be out in full force this morning clearing and treating residential neighbourhoods and streets. Multiple passes will be required through the course of this event and operations will take longer to complete. This is why extending this winter weather parking ban is critical in supporting our operations.
Please be assured that Roads and Parking Services has deployed all staff and every piece of equipment available in response to this event. A focus on opening and clearing catch basin remains a priority, and we will be working through shift change with efforts continuing into the weekend.
An Extended Winter Weather Parking Ban is in effect
A Winter Weather Parking Ban will is in effect from 10 am today, December 23 to 7 am Saturday, December 24. Please remove your vehicle from the road or risk being ticketed. Though residential parking permit holders or parking on our commercial main streets are exempt, we encourage those who can, to please find off-street parking options during this event to help operators clear and treat as close to the curb as possible.
Information on where to park during a Winter Weather Parking Ban is available on Ottawa.ca/winterparking. To provide additional parking options during this winter weather parking ban, the City of Ottawa is offering temporary parking at parking lots of City of Ottawa Recreation Facilities and Ottawa Public Libraires. Please remember to:
- Assess conditions upon entry, park in clear areas and exercise caution when walking or driving through the lot.
- Only park in parking lots that are clearly identified as serving City recreation facilities and Ottawa Public Libraries.
- Retrieve your vehicle before 7 am Saturday, December 24.
Stay in the know on winter parking restrictions by signing up for our e-alerts or by downloading the City of Ottawa app.
Resident Support is Required
- At this time there is no need to create a service request for routine-type work. All available resources and pieces of equipment have been deployed, and our efforts are most needed out in the community; service requests should only be created for emergencies.
- If today is your waste collection day, please place your bins in your driveway – away from snowbanks, sidewalks and roadways.
- Push don’t lift! Did you know that wet snow can weigh more than twice as much as when its light and fluffy? If you are shoveling today, try to refrain from lifting and instead – push snow to the sides of your laneway. Pushing snow is proven to be less strenuous on a person and taking your time will go a long way. This event is only just getting started, and, like us you will most likely need to do multiple passes.
The forecast remains fluid and our response will continue to change based on conditions. The weather can change on a dime, but Supervisors who are out monitoring the weather and transportation network will ensure to deploy crews according to the needs of our sidewalks, roads, and winter cycling network.