Another blast of winter weather, but Ottawa to be spared the worst

If the recent cold weather wasn't enough, there's another sign it's not quite spring just yet.

A major storm system is approaching the Capital, one that has already started to affect southern Ontario and the U.S. eastern seaboard.

A special weather statement from Environment Canada is calling for 10 to 15 centimeters of snow to fall on Ottawa by Wednesday.

"It looks like the snow will finally push in to the Ottawa area late Tuesday morning," says Environment Canada meteorologist Geoff Coulson. "It looks like any snow that could be falling in time for the morning rush will be relatively intermittent or light. The steadier snow will develop as the morning wears on. There could be some impacts in the afternoon. By then we'll have the snow fully in to the area. We'll also have some blowing snow, and the way things are shaping up we may still have some lingering impacts for the Wednesday drive in."

Coulson expects the system to move out of the region by Wednesday.

"As we get into Wednesday morning, we may get a bit of blowing snow in the Ottawa area, but the worst of it should be over by then," he says.

Large system affecting much of northeastern U.S. and eastern Canada

Further south, accumulation may be higher, with areas around Lake Ontario expecting upwards of 30 centimeters.

"Accumulations for the City of Toronto itself, more likely in the 10 to 15 centimeter range, so there will be some impacts, but just to the west of Toronto, from Hamilton down to the Niagara Peninsula, they're going to get that northeast wind off Lake Ontario and that could bump up their amounts to some areas getting an excess of 30 centimeters."

In addition to poor driving conditions, this system brings the risk of flight cancellations or delays for March Break travelers. It's a wide system, and parts of the northeastern United States are under winter storm warnings as well.

"We've got blizzard warnings in effect from this same system in New Jersey, New York, Massachusetts, and up into Maine," Coulson says. "This system is so large, we're looking at impacts in southern and eastern Ontario, a good part of the northeastern U.S., parts of southern Quebec, and Atlantic Canada."

It's being called Winter Storm Stella in the States.

Thousands of flights today and tomorrow have been cancelled.

Slightly colder start to spring

For Ottawa, spring will start slightly colder than normal, and one more storm like this isn't outside the realm of possibility.

"It's a little too early to rule out the possibility of another storm before we finally say that spring has arrived," Coulson says. "Temperatures will be closer to normal as we finish off the month of March, maybe just a little bit colder than normal, but that could still mean one or two more visits by Old Man Winter before we finally say spring is here."