‘Avoid non-essential travel’: Quebec transport minister warns of worsening road conditions amid storm

Click to play video: 'Mid-winter storm wreaks havoc on travellers' Mid-winter storm wreaks havoc on travellers
WATCH: People looking to get away from the harsh reality of a Montreal winter were forced to be patient on Friday as blustery, snowy conditions caused massive flight delays at Trudeau airport. Global's Kwabena Oduro spoke to travellers. – Feb 7, 2020

A winter storm barrelling through Montreal and southern Quebec forced the closure of most schools on Friday, and has also resulted in numerous road closures.

In a tweet Friday afternoon, Quebec Transport Minister François Bonnardel urged motorists to stay off the roads.

“More than 700 incidents have been reported since this morning,” he said, warning road conditions are expected to worsen as snowfall continues and winds grow stronger.

“Avoid all essential travel,” he said.

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Meanwhile, city officials in Montreal are encouraging commuters to take public transit to get around.

“I think today, buses, metro, will be your best bet,” said City of Montreal spokesperson Philippe Sabourin.

READ MORE: Montreal-area school boards cancel classes due to snowstorm

Crews have been busy clearing snow from city streets since Thursday, and Sabourin says everything is going according to plan.

“We’re ready to face this snowstorm,” he said. “We’re continuing to plow the snow off the streets, to plow the sidewalks and salt the steep hills.”

Sabourin said he expects snow-clearing operations to continue into Saturday.

“We’re expecting maybe another 20 centimetres, and we already have 10 centimetres,” Sabourin said Friday morning.

Click to play video: 'Winter storm slams into Montreal' Winter storm slams into Montreal
Winter storm slams into Montreal – Feb 7, 2020

Despite being ready, clearing snow from Montreal’s 10,000 kilometres of roads and sidewalks presents a big challenge.

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“That’s the equivalent of the distance between Montreal and Brussels, back and forth,” Sabourin said, adding that it was too soon to say when snow-loading operations would begin.

READ MORE: Winter storm warning issued for Montreal

The Sûreté du Québec (SQ), for its part, is warning of the possibility of difficult road conditions across the province.

The SQ is reminding motorists to adapt their driving accordingly.

“We’re inviting motorists to slow down, keep a safe distance from vehicles on the road ahead and to make sure windows and lights are cleared of snow,” provincial police said in a news release.

The police force says most collisions in bad weather conditions happen because drivers fail to adapt their driving.

The SQ is also recommending travellers plan their trip ahead of time and consult the Quebec 511 website for up-to-date road conditions.

SQ spokesperson Claude Denis told Global News there were reports of multiple collisions in the Montreal area, some of which involved multiple vehicles.

“Around 10 vehicles were involved in a collision on the 40 west at kilometre 38,” he said.

He noted, however, that most crashes were “material collisions” meaning they caused material damage but no serious injuries were reported.

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Montreal’s Trudeau airport is also advising travellers to check their flight status before heading to the airport, as several flights have been delayed or cancelled.

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