Stay off the roads if you can, SQ warns as extreme cold and blowing snow return to Montreal

Cars are shrouded in blowing snow as they exit Highway 20 at St-Jean Blve. in Pointe-Claire on Friday, Jan. 5, 2018.

After a nearly two-day reprieve, Montreal is again enveloped in an extreme cold warning, courtesy of Environment Canada.

The city had been under an extreme cold warning from Dec. 27 until Jan. 3 — one of the longest cold snaps recorded here. During part of the reprieve, a smog warning had hung over its residents.

In addition to the deep freeze — minus-20 Celsius (but 15 degrees below that with the wind chill) — blowing snow pummelled Montrealers like little ice bullets. Light and blowing snow were expected to continue through the night with a low of minus-23 C overnight, then hopefully crawling up to minus-19 C on Saturday.

The Sûreté du Québec encouraged people to stay off highways, if they can, as blowing snow is affecting visibility.

“If you can stay at home, stay at home,” SQ spokesperson Louis-Philippe Bibeau said Friday morning. He encouraged drivers to slow down and maintain their distance.

Drivers should turn their lights on during the day in these conditions, Bibeau said. While daytime running lights are turned on automatically, rear lights won’t come on unless they’re turned on. Having those rear lights on will help vehicles be seen by other drivers in the blowing snow, he said.

Bibeau said there were a few overnight collisions on roadways patrolled by the SQ in the Montreal area, however there were no serious injuries or deaths.

Montreal police are also warning drivers to be cautious, due to the slippery roads and reduced visibility.

Temperatures are expected to let up by Monday, with a forecast high of minus-4 C, and even moreso on Tuesday, at minus-2 C. The snow is likely to continue in the Montreal area until Tuesday.

At Montreal’s Trudeau airport Friday, more than two dozen flights scheduled to leave or arrive were cancelled.

The majority of those flights are to, or from, East Coast destinations like Halifax, Fredericton, New York and Boston.

Flight status can also be checked on the Aéroports de Montréal website, admtl.com.

Meanwhile in the Maritimes, tens of thousands of people woke up in the dark Friday morning after a ferocious storm blasted through Atlantic Canada, flooding coastal roads, battering sailboats and downing trees with hurricane-force winds.

Nova Scotia Power says 125,000 customers were without electricity in an area that stretched from one end of the province to the other after winds gusting to 140 kilometres an hour whipped through the region late Thursday and into Friday.

In New Brunswick, more than 130 outages were affecting 11,000 customers throughout the province that was also hit with heavy snowfall, while P.E.I. was also largely in the dark.

The Canadian Press contributed to this report

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