If you feel like Hamilton is trudging through unrelenting winter weather that’s worse than any in recent memory — you’re right.
Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the region for Tuesday, warning of the possibility of 15 to 25 cm of snow, sandwiched around high winds, rain, freezing rain and ice pellets.
That comes after two days of freezing rain hit the city last week, shutting down schools and making sidewalks and roadways treacherous to get around on.
It’s a pattern continuing from one of the worst Januaries in a decade, said Gerald Cheng, meteorologist with Environment Canada.
“It’s been a long time since we’ve seen this much snow,” he said.
The weather agency recorded 58.8 cm of snowfall in January at the airport, which is the most on record since 2009, when 62 cm of snow hit Hamilton that month.
So fair there’s been 1.2 cm of snow in February, but that will undoubtedly change this week, Cheng said.
Then there’s the cold, which has been equally as unrelenting. The average temperature for January in Hamilton is –5.5 C, but this year it was –6.9 C. Wind chill values in recent weeks have dropped below –25, prompting several cold warnings.
It’s the polar opposite to how winter started out for the city. The average temperature for December in Hamilton is –2.3 C, but it was a relatively balmy –0.5 C last December.
“Now things are really ramping up,” Cheng said.
Tuesday’s storm promises to be particularly messy, with various types of precipitation expected alongside high winds.
Environment Canada says snow and blowing snow will begin early Tuesday, with winds around 40 km/h, and gusting to 80 km/h near Lake Ontario.
“It will certainly be hard to see anything,” Cheng said.
The Hamilton Conservation Authority (HCA) is warning of an increased risk of localized flooding and shoreline erosion along Hamilton’s shoreline, due to the storm surge and wave action caused by high winds.
Wave heights of up to 1.5 metres are expected on Monday, while up to 2.5-metre wave heights are in the forecast for Tuesday.
Tuesday’s precipitation will change to a mix of snow and ice pellets in the afternoon, though the winds will remain high. Cheng says more snow is expected later in the day Tuesday, alongside a risk of freezing rain.
Environment Canada is asking people to postpone non-essential travel until conditions improve.
“Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become difficult to navigate due to accumulating snow,” the agency’s latest weather warning says. “Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow.
“There may be a significant impact on rush hour traffic in urban areas.”