Massive multi-vehicle collision claims two lives on Highway 15
Much warmer - calm weather on the way for Montreal
High pressure is cresting over southern Quebec early Thursday morning, along with clear skies and cold temperatures. The high for Montreal will be around -10C (14F) Thursday, dropping to -19C (-2F) overnight into Friday morning. On Friday, warmer air will begin to stream into the region, with a few clouds around and daytime highs of -2C (28F). This weekend into early next week will feature calm weather, with lots of cloud cover, but very mild temperatures as we go above freezing each day from Saturday through Tuesday. Look for highs in the plus 2C to 5C range (35 to 41F) and lows just below freezing, between -1C and -4C (25 to 30F). The next change for precipitation will arrive by late Tuesday in the form a light rain or snow.
The forecast comes as a relief to many after what has been a conveyor belt of storms this month. Since February 1st, Montreal has recorded 60.4cm of snow, over 2 feet. Other regions in southern Quebec have had even more, as much as 70cm on Ile Perrot for example. Our most recent snowfall came along a strong arctic cold front early Wednesday morning. The front produced scattered snow squalls, some which were quite potent in southern Quebec, dropping 2-5cm of snow in a very short period of time during the Wednesday morning commute. The front was followed by rapid clearing but also very strong winds and dropping temperatures. Wind gusts were reported between 60-70km/h in southern Quebec on Wednesday through the middle portion of the day.
Massive multi-vehicle accident
The wind, combined with all the fresh snow on the ground, produced very dangerous blowing snow conditions across area highways, especially south of Montreal. During the early afternoon on Wednesday, a small accident during white-out conditions on Highway 15 in La Prairie, became a massive 140 vehicle pile-up within minutes. The accident resulted in 2 fatalities and over 30 injuries, some critical. The Sûreté du Québec continue their investigation, but indicate that poor visibility and excessive speed were the likely culprits.
The highway was reopened at 1:15am Thursday morning after a lengthy cleanup. This stretch of road is notorious for major accidents from blowing snow. The winds blow the snow onto the highway from the frozen La Prairie Basin and the St. Lawrence Seaway. Wednesdays weather shows you just how dangerous and changeable winter driving can be, even on what appears to have been a sunny February afternoon. We simply drive too fast for the conditions.