Avoid unnecessary travel, officials warn Quebecers as winter storm hits

Avoid unnecessary travel, officials warn Quebecers as winter storm hits

Officials in Quebec are warning motorists to stay off the roads today, as a big storm is expected to bring heavy snowfall, strong winds and storm surges to parts of the province.

“During the storm, many roads will be closed, and that’s the reason why we ask the people to stay at home and only go out in case of an emergency,” said provincial police spokesperson Claude Doiron.

Environment Canada has issued dozens of weather warnings for heavy snowfall and storm surges.

The areas expected to be worst hit include much of the eastern part of the province, especially regions near the water, including Sept-Îles and the length of the North Shore, as well as the Gaspé Peninsula.

While places like Montreal, Quebec City and the Eastern Townships are expecting up to 25 centimetres of snow by Friday night, eastern Quebec, including the Gaspé Peninsula, could see as much as 50 centimetres.

Winds are expected to reach 110 km/h, causing high waves along shorelines and possible coastal flooding.

“I think the winds will be the real problem in areas like the Gaspé,” said CBC weather specialist Frank Cavallaro. “It could knock down power lines and trees.”

Some Sept-Îles residents evacuate their homes

Some residents in Sept-Îles decided to leave their homes Thursday, before the brunt of the storm hit.

“People living around the shorelines are concerned. Some of them are already evacuating their houses, just to be preventive,” said Patrick William, general manager of the city of Sept-Îles.

There are about 1,400 homes along the shoreline and high tides could cause flooding and damage to buildings.

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He said teams of firefighters and snow-clearing workers have been out since midnight, observing the situation and keeping sewers clear.

cancelled flights in Montreal

About 100 departure flights were cancelled Thursday at Montreal’s Trudeau Airport Thursday, as a major storm hit the northeastern United States before heading up toward Canada. (CBC)

Air travellers should also expect delays. On Thursday, about 100 flights out of Trudeau airport were cancelled. More are expected today.

While the Laurentians isn’t expected to get hit hard with snow, it is expected to be cold, with windchill values Friday night expected to drop to –39 and winds gusting to 60 km/h. Some towns in the region are taking measures in the event of widespread power outages.

“The town of Amherst has opened a warming centre on the second floor of the Amherst fire hall at 62 Albion Street for those people who do not have power. People can also charge electronic devices at this location,” said the town’s spokesperson Tom McCoag.

The province’s Transport Ministry said although its crews got to work as soon as the snowfall began, people should still avoid all non-essential travel, if possible.

“The weather conditions will be quite heavy: lots of snow, lots of precipitation. In some areas, we might have ice on the roads.” said Transports Québec spokesperson Sarah Bensadoun. “Even though we will be there to de-ice and put salt on the roads, it might be complicated for drivers.”