There’s no place like home for the holidays, but in large swaths of Canada and the United States, it could be difficult to get there amid a range of weather warnings.
A storm and extreme cold in Western Canada has grounded hundreds of flights in Vancouver, Victoria and Calgary, and Environment Canada says to avoid travel, if possible, in large parts of Ontario and Quebec as the winter storm approaches.
Environment Canada’s warning map is lit up like a Christmas tree, full of reds and yellows. In the United States, the same weather systems are expected to cause power outages and travel chaos.
All told, millions of people in both countries could be affected by their travel or celebration plans during the holiday weekend.
More snow on the way for an already hobbled BC
Environment Canada says a “significant winter storm” is expected for the southern coast of British Columbia Thursday night, with heavy winds and snow for Vancouver, Vancouver Island and the Fraser Valley.
On Thursday afternoon, Vancouver International Airport warned of more cancellations, delays and congestion for Friday. The airport was still dealing with a backlog of stranded passengers – and missing luggage – from a storm earlier this week.
Matt Leger, who was stranded at the Vancouver airport trying to get to Tampa, Fla. — and was still stuck in Seattle Thursday morning — told CBC News Network that he was unable to speak with a representative at the airport or at the airport. . phone.
“I was just left in limbo, not knowing when my next flight will be.”
Eventually he reached someone with the airline, who told him he had to wait until Christmas or fly to Orlando, about 135 kilometers from Tampa.
Consider postponing collections until Sunday, Ontarians said
In Ontario, the weather agency has placed most of the province under a warning or watch ahead of a major winter storm expected Friday and into the holiday weekend. Several school boards in the province, including the Toronto District School Board, canceled school on Friday.
Steven Flisfeder, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said damaging wind, flash freezes and blizzard-like conditions will make driving difficult.
If you plan to travel for holiday meetings, try to arrive before the worst of the storm or try to postpone meetings until Sunday, he said.
Until then, “take this time ahead of the storm to prepare for the conditions to come,” Flisfeder said. “It’s always better to be prepared, so you don’t have to scramble when the storm is approaching.”
In Toronto, Hamilton and Ottawa, the agency is calling for up to 15 centimeters of snow by Friday and possible wind gusts of 90 km/h. Elsewhere in southern Ontario, overnight rain with falling temperatures could lead to lightning conditions through Friday.
Starting Friday, Environment Canada says a “crippling blizzard” could hit parts of southwestern Ontario, including the Niagara Region and Owen Sound, bringing wind gusts up to 120 km/h and 15 to 30 centimeters of snow by Sunday. The Niagara Region has also issued a flood warning for Lake Erie.
In Quebec, people are being asked to prepare emergency kits that will help sustain them for up to 72 hours without power, with a mix of heavy snow, rain and strong winds expected from Thursday night in much of the province.
Meteorologist Jean-Philippe Begin says Quebecers should prepare for the possibility of blackouts “for long periods.”
In other parts of Canada, the hits keep coming:
I Newfoundland and LabradorA special weather statement says a winter storm is expected on Saturday.
Prince Edward Island There will be heavy rain and strong wind gusts starting Friday afternoon. The weather could affect travel plans on Friday evening and Christmas Eve morning, as well as power outages.
Officials are persuaded Nova Scotia with planning ahead for the holiday weekend, a storm is expected to hit the western part of the province on Friday evening, moving on to Cape Breton by Saturday morning.
I New Brunswicksnow, heavy rain, ice pellets, strong winds and a possible storm surge Friday afternoon.
Most southern regions Manitoba and the far north of the province is under very cold warnings for Thursday night, with wind chill values expected to approach -40 C in Winnipeg.
I Albertaheavy snowfall, gusty winds and freezing rain are expected from Saturday afternoon to Sunday morning, before the province thaws next week.
Very cold warnings were also in place for Yukon and parts of the NWT and Saskatchewan.
There are few escape options
Motorists have been urged to stay off the roads during bad weather, but if people do have to go out, they should take extra precautions, including planning ahead and making sure they have good snow tires, says the Canadian Automobile Association (CAA).
Drivers should also keep a roadside emergency kit in their vehicle, along with some sand or salt, and make sure their phone is fully charged, says Julie Beun, CAA communications director for eastern and northern Ontario.
Any snowbird who was hoping to make it through the winter this Christmas is also in luck. In much of the United States, the Christmas weekend could be the coldest in years. Wind chill warnings are in place in 30 states.
The sub-zero temperatures affecting Canada are also expected to extend deep into the US; places with names like Inland Citrus, Fla., and Sweetwater, Texas, are being warned of freezing temperatures.
The US National Weather Service is warning that the winter storm will bring “potentially devastating impacts” to the central and eastern US, with record cold and “life-threatening wind chills” across the Great Plains and the eastern half of the country on Friday.
“The storm hitting the Upper Midwest, Great Lakes and Inland Northeast regions will make land and air travel dangerous, at times impossible, before the holiday weekend,” a statement from the service said.
Michigan State Police prepared to deploy additional troopers to assist motorists. And along Interstate 90 in northern Indiana, crews worked to clear as much as 30 centimeters of snow. About 150 members of the National Guard are deployed to assist Indiana travelers caught in the snow.
More than 2,700 flights within, into or out of the US were canceled for Thursday and Friday, according to the tracking site FlightAware, and Amtrak canceled train service on more than 20 routes, mainly in the Midwest.