Canadians nearing record-breaking winter for snow

Mon Mar 10, 2008 1:22pm EDT
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By Jonathan Spicer and Randall Palmer

TORONTO/OTTAWA (Reuters) - Eastern Canada closed in on record snowfall levels this weekend, after a late-season storm dumped up to half a meter (20 inches) of snow on a region that has already been battered by a series of winter storms.

Toronto was among the first hit late on Friday as the storm pushed up from the U.S. Midwest. By Sunday, about 30 cm (12 inches) of snow had accumulated, leading to hundreds of traffic accidents, scores of flight cancellations and buried any expectations of spring.

It also left the country's biggest city only about 21 cm (8 inches) shy of its 69-year-old annual snowfall record.

"People are demanding a recount, they want to break the record," said David Phillips, Environment Canada's chief climatologist.

"It was a monster storm where you had the lake-effect component, the winds were wild, and there were two waves of it," he said in an interview.

Montreal took on about 42 cm (16 inches) of snow over the weekend, leaving it about 23 cm shy of its record, set in the winter of 1970-71.

But Ottawa felt the most pain: The nation's capital just about completely shut down after more than 50 cm (20 inches) of snow fell, canceling flights, trains, buses and many activities.

About 407 cm (13.4 feet) of snow has fallen in the city so far this year, which approaches its seemingly invincible record of 445 cm, also set in 1970-71.   Continued...

<p>A worker clears snow in downtown Toronto February 1, 2008. REUTERS/Mark Blinch</p>