Snow, warming temperatures, possible freezing rain, make Kingston roads perilous

School bus cancellations for the third day in a row in Kingston

First there was snow — and lots of it — then came the bitterly cold temperatures, and now Environment Canada is warning of possible freezing rain coming to eastern Ontario, a dangerous mix that has made for a seriously messy commute in the Kingston area.

The extreme changes in the weather caused English school board buses in the Limestone City to be cancelled for three days in a row, from Monday to Wednesday.

READ MORE: Kingston-area school buses cancelled for third straight day

As a result, both the Limestone District School Board and Algonquin and Lakeshore Catholic District School Board have announced delays to their high school exam schedules.

More than 40 centimetres of snow dropped on the city over the weekend, and according to Bill Linnen with Kingston Public Works, since the temperatures remained extremely cold — in fact, dangerously cold temperatures didn’t cease until Tuesday afternoon — the effectiveness of salt on the roads was limited.

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“When the temperature does get really cold, and there is snow on the road, snow can pack on the road. So sand is an effective material to add some traction,” Linnen told Global Kingston in an interview about the weekend’s snowstorm.

WATCH: Kingston hit by first big winter storm

Kingston hit by first big winter storm
Kingston hit by first big winter storm

There was a short reprieve of the snow from Sunday to Tuesday, but Kingston experienced more snow on Tuesday evening that continued on into Wednesday morning.

“Total snowfall amounts are expected to range from 2 to 5 cm near Lake Ontario, to 10 to 15 cm over areas further northwest towards Georgian Bay by [Wednesday] afternoon,” said a special weather statement from Environment Canada.

This snow, Environment Canada says, could possibly turn into freezing rain on Wednesday afternoon, due to rising temperatures.

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READ MORE: Snow, extremely cold weather on its way to Kingston, Brockville and Belleville

According to the weather agency, the extreme change in temperatures, which went from below -20 C Tuesday morning and is expected to reach 4 C Wednesday afternoon, was caused by a Colorado low track travelling northeast across Lake Huron and Georgian Bay.

Although snow removal has begun in Kingston, large snowbanks — along with the slush from the warming snow left packed on the roads — made Wednesday morning’s commute in Kingston less than ideal. With possible freezing rain on its way, Environment Canada is warning people to be extra careful on the roads.

Linnen said in situations like these, it’s all hands on deck at Kingston’s Public Works, with trucks working day and night to clean up the streets.

But if you’re waiting for your residential street to be plowed, beware, there’s a hierarchy for which streets are cleared first.

“Arterial roads, main roads in the city, are always the first priority when it comes to roads, as well as bus lanes,” said Linnen.

If you like to check where you land, the City of Kingston has plowing priority maps that show what roads and sidewalks will be considered first, second and third priority for snow plows.

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The city of Kingston’s snow plow map shows the roads that are first priority in red, second priority in yellow and third in green.
The city of Kingston’s snow plow map shows the roads that are first priority in red, second priority in yellow and third in green. City of Kingston

Also, it’s not just the city of Kingston that has to deal with the messy roads. Highway 401 has been slippery, with several collisions reported on Wednesday morning.

The weather is supposed to dip below freezing on Wednesday evening, but there is a chance that Thursday could bring freezing rain once again, with temperatures hovering below and above 0 C.