Once in a Decade Storm Coming to Ottawa

By Charlie Senack, Barrhaven Independent

We are just hours away from snow starting to fall in the capital, possibly leading to one of the cities biggest storms in over a decade. 

On Sunday evening the City of Ottawa issued a “significant weather warning”, urging residents to brace for high accumulation and strong wind gusts. As a result, it might take city plows longer to plow residential streets. 

“Some (residents) can expect to see some activity after 7:00 pm on Monday night and into the overnight hours, but I would say that a lot of them are going to see snow clearing equipment in there communities during the day on Tuesday,” said Alain Gonthier, Director of Roads and Parking Services at the City of Ottawa. 

“Because of the volumes we are dealing with, just the weight of the snow, it’s going to take our equipment a lot longer also to be able to get through,” he added. 

Priority is being given to main roadways, highways, transit ways, and the city’s cycling network. Two to five centimeters of snow could fall every hour at its peak, meaning plows might need to repeat its cycle in high trafficked areas. 

Wind gusts between 30 and 50 kilometres an hour could also be expected in the afternoon, making visibility pour. 

The city is urging residents to stay indoors if they can, and to only go out for essential purposes. 

“We really just want to appeal to residents that if they don’t need to be out tomorrow for essential travels, to please stay home,” urges Gonthier. “The conditions will be pretty nasty at times, and we want to be sure that we leave room for our staff to be able to clear the streets for them, and also to leave room for those who really don’t have a choice, who really do have to be travelling, and that’s really for all modes of travel.”

The city is also asking residents to not to call with service requests asking when there streets will be plowed. While delays are expected, all roadways will be cleared. 

A rare 24-hour overnight parking ban has also been issued, lasting from 7:00 pm Monday until 7:00 pm Tuesday. 

Garbage pickup will also be delayed a day for all residents this week, due to the storm. 

Vaccination clinics in the city will be closed Monday due to the snowfall, and those with an appointment will be contacted directly. Libraries will also keep there doors shut.

Ottawa is expected to get dumped with anywhere from 30 to 40 centimeters of snow, with flakes starting to fall at around 3:00 am Monday morning. Some parts of the city could see upwards of 50 cm of snow fall. 

Gonthier says storms like this come around only once every 10 years, and is not your typical snowfall. Despite many sectors being hit with staffing shortages during the pandemic, it isn’t a concern in this case. 

“In terms of our response this is really not a typical event; this is very much a large scale event. We have been planning for this for a few days in terms of getting equipment ready, getting our staff all prepared, so we are ready to respond, and residents really need to realize that this is not your typical snowstorm.”