Storm watch prompts warnings in Ontario, Quebec, Maritimes

Warnings of "significant" amounts of rain, snow, ice pellets and freezing rain are prompting warnings about possible flight cancellations, power outages and rising water levels in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes.

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Environment Canada has issued wide-ranging freezing rain and winter storm warnings, predicting that the precipitation could cause icy build-up on roads, buildings and electrical wires in some areas.

In Ottawa, "significant ice build-up due to freezing rain" could cause "widespread utility outages," Environment Canada said in a warning.

The agency is predicting up to 20 millimetres of freezing rain in the capital, and says residents should beware of branches or electrical wires that might snap under the weight of the ice. It's also urging residents to avoid travel.

Meanwhile, Air Canada warned travellers on Wednesday that freezing rain could cause "flight delays and possibly cancellations" at airports across the region, including in Charlottetown, Fredericton, Moncton, Montreal, Ottawa, Quebec City and Toronto.

WestJet also issued travel advisories for winter storm systems in New York, Southern Ontario, Montreal, and Quebec City, and Porter Airlines issued a weather advisory for the area as well.

In Toronto, the winter weather forecast prompted a Watershed Safety Conditions Statement, warning of high-flowing water, unsafe river banks and other dangerous conditions.

"This significant amount of precipitation in the form of a mixture of snow, frozen rain and rain will result in higher than normal water levels and flows," the statement said. "The combination of slippery and unstable banks, unsafe ice and cold water temperature will create hazardous conditions close to any river, stream or other water body."

While significant flooding is not predicted, the statement urged residents in the Toronto area to exercise caution around rivers and streams.

According to Environment Canada, the nasty weather is part of a low pressure system that moved up through the Southern United States and toward the Great Lakes on Tuesday and early Wednesday.

Freezing rain warning are issued when rain falling in below-zero temperatures causes ice to build up on outdoor surfaces.



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