Environment Canada upgrades forecast to storm warning for Kingston and area

City of Kingston snowplow. Photo by Logan Cadue/Kingstonist.

As cities throughout Ontario and northern New York brace for snow and rain with the Christmas commute looming, Environment Canada has upgraded its weather alerts for Kingston and the area from its previous special weather statement.

At 3 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, Environment Canada issued a winter storm warning, in effect for the Kingston, Odessa, Frontenac Islands, Napanee, Consecon, Picton, and Sandbanks Park areas. The warning advises of a “major winter storm expected” for Friday, Dec. 23 and Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022.

“Travel will become hazardous,” the notice reads, warning of potentially damaging wind gusts of 100 to 120 km/h, which could result in “widespread blowing snow which will reduce visibility to near zero at times.”

Further potential hazards of the storm include snowfall amounts of 5 to 15 cm by early Saturday morning, as well as windchill values approaching -20 C, and possible flash freezing “producing icy and slippery surfaces.”

“Blizzard conditions and higher snowfall amounts are possible near Lake Ontario as a result of snow squalls,” Environment Canada said.

According to the national weather agency, damaging winds and widespread blowing snow may develop Friday afternoon and continue into Saturday, with the current rainy conditions changing to snow Friday afternoon, then tapering off to flurries for Saturday morning.

“Snow may continue into Sunday for areas that receive snow squalls,” the warning reads.

Very cold wind chill values will develop late Friday and persist into the weekend, with flash freezing possible on Friday afternoon, Environment Canada explained.

“Precipitation is expected to begin as rain or snow by early this evening before transitioning to rain for many areas overnight. Rainfall warnings have been issued. Temperatures will plummet on Friday afternoon leading to a potential flash freeze. Rapidly falling temperatures will be accompanied by damaging winds, snow at times heavy, and widespread blowing snow. Blizzard conditions may develop late Friday for locations near Lake Ontario as a result of snow squalls,” the warning states.

“Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow. If visibility is reduced while driving, slow down, watch for taillights ahead and be prepared to stop.”

For more information on how the storm is expected to impact local waterways and/or localized flooding, find more information from the Cataraqui Conservation Authority here.

Meanwhile, the rainfall warning issued by Environment Canada for the same areas remains in effect for the evening of Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022.

To the north, a winter storm warning and rainfall warning are also in effect for the Tamworth, Sydenham, South Frontenac, Stirling, Tweed, and Madoc areas, with rainfall amounts of 20 to 30 mm in the forecast, which includes “rainfall, combined with melting snow.” This activity will begin on the evening of Thursday, Dec. 22, 2022, and continue into Friday evening.

“Rain will transition to snow Friday afternoon. A winter storm warning is in effect,” the rainfall warning foreshadows. “Localized flooding in low-lying areas is possible.”

That winter storm warning advises that a major winter storm is expected north of the city for Friday, Dec. 23 and Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, echoing most of the previous warning.

“Precipitation is expected to begin as rain or snow by early this evening before transitioning to rain for many areas overnight. Rainfall warnings have been issued for some locations. Temperatures will plummet on Friday afternoon leading to a potential flash freeze. Rapidly falling temperatures will be accompanied by damaging winds, snow at times heavy, and widespread blowing snow. Total snowfall amounts of 10 to 20 cm is expected before the snow tapers off to flurries Saturday morning,” Environment Canada said, noting wind gusts could reach up to 90 km/h in these areas.

Those in the areas above are also being told to consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. “Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow. If visibility is reduced while driving, slow down, watch for taillights ahead and be prepared to stop.”

For all of these areas, Public Safety Canada encourages everyone to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and a flashlight, according to Environment Canada. More information on emergency plans and kits is available here.

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