Winter Storm

Road Conditions during a Snowstorm in St. Catharines – Photo by MattClare

Snowstorms, freezing rain, and ice storms are likely to occur across Canada throughout the winter season. They can last between a few hours to several days.  These winter storms can develop quickly and threaten life and property. Certain hazards associated include poor visibility, low temperatures and high winds.

In Canada, blizzards with high winds happen most often in the Prairies, eastern Arctic and eastern Ontario. Heavy snowfalls are commonplace in British Columbia, the Atlantic provinces, southern and eastern Quebec and areas around the Great Lakes. Freezing rain, on the other hand, can take place anywhere across the nation, but most often in Ontario, Quebec and the Atlantic provinces. Hailstorms happen all over Canada, though they are most frequent in Alberta, the southern Prairies and in southern Ontario.

Get prepared for a winter storm by:

  • Listening to the local radio or television stations for weather warnings and advice.
  • Stocking up on heating fuel, as you may become isolated in your home and regular fuel sources may be cut off. Create an emergency kit which includes ready-to-eat food, as well as battery-powered or wind-up flashlights and radios – and extra batteries.
  • Securing everything that might be blown around or torn loose – indoors and outdoors.
  • Staying away from windows, doors and fireplaces if you are indoors.
  • Going to a sheltered place, and if you are advised by officials to evacuate, do so. Take your emergency kit with you.

Here are some specific tips of what to do during winter storms:

Snow Storms & Blizzards

  • When a winter storm hits, stay indoors, and keep yourself and your pets away from windows, glass doors and skylights which can shatter if hit by hailstones. If you must go outside, do so during the day. Dress for the weather, and let someone know your route and arrival time. Keep watch for traffic or searchers.
  • When hail begins to fall, take cover, find shelter and avoid underpasses or any low lying areas that may flood.
  • Do not go out to cover plants, cars or garden furniture or to rescue animals.

Freezing Rain & Ice Storms

  • Never touch power lines. Remember also that ice, branches or power lines can continue to break and fall for several hours after freezing rain has stopped.
  • When freezing rain is forecast, avoid driving. Wait several hours after freezing rain ends so that road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.

After a winter storm:

  • Avoid open outdoor areas for at least a half hour
  • Continue to listen for updates: portable radio and smartphone

Having adequate emergency supplies available for you and your family will allow for emergency responders to treat the most critical areas first.  Each family should create a supply list to match your specific needs – and here are a few ideas to help guide you:


Water—at least a 3-day supply; 4 litres per person per day
Emergency Plan

Can opener
Aid – First Aid Kit
Money (Cash)
Emergency Flashlight (plus batteries)

Edibles—at least a 3-day supply of non-perishable, easy-to-prepare food
Additional Items
Documents – (identification, medication list, home ownership/rental documentation, birth certificates, insurance policies, Emergency contact numbers)
Your Keys – Extra set of car keys and house keys

Other items

  • Waterproof duffle bag to store emergency supplies
  • Heating Fuel
  • Medications (7-day supply)
  • Swiss Army Knife (or comparable tool)
  • Cell phone with chargers
  • City map
  • Protective shoes, clothes, rain gear, and a hat
  • Supplies for babies and pets
  • Emergency blanket
  • Insect repellent and sunscreen
  • Camera for photos of damage

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