Townships across Haliburton County are bracing themselves as a serious winter storm sweeps across much of southern Ontario, advising area residents to stay home, if possible, over the next 24 hours.
Dysart et al, Minden Hills, Highlands East, Algonquin Highlands and the County of Haliburton have all declared significant weather events, with a slew of municipal services delayed or shuttered Dec. 23 and Dec. 24.
This comes after Environment Canada issued a weather watch for Haliburton County in the early hours of Friday morning.
“The major winter storm will continue through Saturday. Travel will become hazardous and is not advised,” a warning on the Environment Canada website reads.
Heavy snowfall is expected throughout Friday, with snow squalls forecasted overnight. Environment Canada is predicting a minimum of 20cm to fall by Saturday morning. Further flurries are expected throughout Saturday.
Cold wind chill values will develop Friday afternoon and persist into the weekend as a cold front from the south pushes north. Temperatures are expected to drop to minus 20 degrees Celsius and below, with anticipated wind gusts of up to 70 km/h.
With the heavy winds, Environment Canada is calling for near whiteout conditions across much of the County due to blowing snow.
“Consider postponing non-essential travel until conditions improve. Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow. If visibility is reduced while driving, slow down, watch for taillights ahead and be prepared to stop,” Environment Canada states.
Public Safety Canada is encouraging anyone travelling to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, medicine, a first-aid kit and a flashlight, in case they get stranded.
Township staff posted a note to the municipal website at 6 a.m. Dec. 23, advising residents of several changes to operations.
All waste disposal sites will be closed Dec. 24 and 25, and are scheduled to reopen Dec. 26. The township office on North Shore Road will be closed to the public today (Dec. 23) and will remain closed throughout the holidays, reopening Jan. 3. A notice to airmen has been issued for the Stanhope Municipal Airport advising that no winter maintenance will be performed over the next few days. Fueling for emergency crews will continue.
Users of the roads and sidewalks within the municipality are advised to avoid unnecessary travel and to use caution if doing so. Municipal work forces will continue to provide maintenance operations, but for safety considerations operations will be delayed and may need to be suspended.
Dysart et al
In its notice warning the public about inclement weather, Dysart officials say they are expecting over 30 cm of snow to fall over the next couple of days. They are advising residents to stay home until the worst of the weather has passed.
“A significant weather event is declared when a weather hazard is approaching or occurring and has the potential to pose a significant danger to [residents]. The declaration suspends the standard timelines required for municipalities to meet their winter maintenance objectives until the municipality declares the significant weather event has ended,” a post on the Dysart et al website reads.
Dysart has not outlined any closures to municipal facilities.
All municipal buildings across Highlands East will be closed until the significant weather event is over. The Hwy. 28 waste disposal site will be closed Dec. 23, with further waste disposal site closures expected Dec. 24.
The township declared a significant weather event Dec. 23 at 6 a.m.
“The declaration may change how or when the municipality performs its winter maintenance operations and may increase the amount of time to bring the roads back to a state of repair. Highlands East is advising residents to stay off the roads unless necessary, and if you must travel, please use extreme caution as the municipality may not be able to meet its maintenance standards for roads due to freezing rain and heavy snowfall.”
Updates will be provided on the municipal website at highlandseast.ca when the weather event has ended.
Posting similar advisories to other municipalities, Minden Hills is recommending people stay home until the weather event has subsided.
All municipal buildings will be closed until the event is over, including S.G. Nesbitt Memorial Arena. All waste disposal sites (Scotch Line, Ingoldsby, Little Gull and Iron Mine) will also be closed.
“Municipal staff would like to thank the residents and businesses for their understanding and cooperation on this matter,” the township notice reads. “We will provide updates when the significant weather event has ended.
To monitor weather conditions, visit weather.gc.ca. To report severe weather, send an email to ONstorm@ec.gc.ca.