Windsor-Essex Still In Grips Of Cold Weather

Wicked winter weather caused a treacherous weekend for many drivers across the region  with dozens of cars skidding off roadways and into ditches  and Environment Canada is forecasting more of the same for this week.

When you get a lot of snow, people tend to drive more cautiously than if you just get a little bit, said Environment Canada senior climatologist David Phillips. Just a little bit of snow, then some strong winds, causing blowing and drifting snow, makes for treacherous driving conditions.

Phillips said over the weekend, blowing and drifting snow caused very low visibility  at times less than a kilometre  which made for some hazardous driving conditions, especially on open county roads where wind gusts are highest.

OPP Const. Stephanie Moniz said officers were kept busy dealing with dozens of weather-related accidents over the weekend. She said there were no serious injuries reported.

Eastbound and westbound lanes of Highway 401 were closed for several hours Saturday due to poor driving conditions caused by the weather. And traffic throughout the day moved very slowly along County Road 42 where 401 motorists were rerouted.

The OPP said Highway 401 was closed briefly at Communication Road in Chatham Saturday after a police cruiser was struck causing extensive damage. No injuries were reported.

Chatham-Kent police said a section of Highway 40 was also closed Saturday for about three hours.

The several road closures caused a number of local sporting events to be postponed  including a St. Clair College volleyball game and two University of Windsor basketball games  until weather conditions improved for travelling teams.

Flights to Pelee Island were cancelled Saturday due to poor runway conditions caused by blowing and drifting snow and Point Pelee National Park was also closed for the day.

Snowplows were pulled from the streets in Chatham-Kent Saturday because poor visibility prevented them from operating safely. They resumed service on Sunday.

Phillips said although there wasn't significant snowfall, the dreadful winter weather over the weekend was caused by an Alberta clipper tracking through the region.

What clipper systems do is they don't bury you in snow, but they nickel and dime you to death, said Phillips. Sometimes you get a record amount of snow because you can get three or four days where you get heavy snow and then you don't get any snow, but you still set a record. The clipper systems this month are like the water torture test, you know. You get a little bit here, a little bit there and it just wears you down.

The week is set to start off with another clipper moving across the region, with low temperatures, possible flurries and snow squalls and wind gusts up to 50 km/h.

Mondays high will be -13C and Tuesdays high is forecast at -14, said Phillips. The lows this week will dip as low as -23C, with wind chills making it feel as cold as -32C.

While several days this month have already smashed records for coldest January days in Windsors history, Phillips said the area may be on its way to breaking another record.

Phillips said from the start of January up to Saturday, 78.4 centimetres of snow has fallen in Windsor  more than double the average amount for this month, which is 37.2 centimetres. The record amount of snowfall January in Windsor is 86.4 centimetres, which occurred in 1999.

So youre certainly within a dusting of breaking a record for the snowiest January, especially with a 30 per cent of flurries Monday, then snow in the forecast for Thursday and Friday, said Phillips.

With Decembers 53 centimetres of snowfall, total snowfall this winter is 134.2 centimetres, he said.

What you get for entire winter normally is 129 centimetres, said Phillips. So you've had more than a years worth of snow already and were just at the halfway point.

Phillips added the frequent but small amounts of the white stuff has made the winter season seem very long in Windsor. Since January began, only three days have had no snowfall.

We don't keep records of days with snow, but of 26 days, having only three without snow is probably, psychologically, really a downer, said Phillips.

With no above-zero temps in the forecast this week  combined with last weeks frigid forecast Phillips said it looks like Windsor will go more than two weeks without melting temperatures that would provide some winter relief.

It certainly has been one of the coldest and snowiest January on record, said Phillips. It really has been a real test of what a winter month can be like in the Windsor area.

Thousands escaped winter weather at Windsors new water park over the weekend.

About 2,800 visited Adventure Bay Saturday and Sunday, said aquatic complex acting manager Scott Bisson. When the water park opened the previous weekend, 1,121 people visited, said Bisson.

He said hes glad the numbers more than doubled in one week and knows the warm escape from the cold temperatures is enticing and will attract many more this winter. He said the balmy break from winter inside the water park is maintained by a comfortable air temperature that hovers at about 27 C.

With this weather, theres not much you can do outside, said Bisson. So this is kind of like a topical getaway without going to the airport.

To read the original article from The Windsor Star, click here.