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Ontario: Brutal cold ahead, risk of major weekend snow storm

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For anyone in Ontario who's been wondering what happened to the winter's bitter chill this year, your questions will be answered this week. On the heels of a clipper system set to sweep through the region mid-week, brutally cold Arctic air sinks down into the province, dropping temperatures up to 15 degrees below average for this time of year and pushing wind chills into dangerous territory. We're also watching for a weekend storm that could drop the most snowfall so far this season for some. See who's most at risk, and just how cold it's going to get, below.

A commuter waits for a bus during a winter snow storm in Medford, Massachusetts February 9, 2015. Boston and other areas of the Northeast, already buried under about a yard of snow, braced for up to two more feet through early Tuesday while more rain and high winds were in store for parts of the Pacific coast, forecasters said on Sunday. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY) © Brian Snyder/Reuters A commuter waits for a bus during a winter snow storm in Medford, Massachusetts February 9, 2015. Boston and other areas of the Northeast, already buried under about a yard of snow, braced for up to two more feet through early Tuesday while more rain and high winds were in store for parts of the Pacific coast, forecasters said on Sunday. REUTERS/Brian Snyder (UNITED STATES - Tags: ENVIRONMENT SOCIETY)

(Related: 5 terrible things cold can do to the human body)

WEATHER HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Clipper system sweeps through with light snow mid-week
  • Bitterly cold air builds through week
  • Next weekend sees coldest air of the winter so far; wind chills in -20s and -30s
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ALBERTA CLIPPER BRINGS LIGHT SNOW

High pressure has been deflecting much of the active weather across the central U.S.away from Ontario for the past few days, but that changes this week, as the ridge breaks down and a clipper system invades from the Prairies. As is usually the case with clippers, there isn't much moisture to work with for this storm, and while many will see at least a dusting of snow, accumulations are expected to be generally light -- no more than a few centimetres -- for most population centres, with higher accumulations possible for far northern Ontario in the west and north of Timmins in the east.

WATCH BELOW: TRACKING THE CLIPPER

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Snow moves into northwestern Ontario Tuesday afternoon and tracks across the province with the low, exiting the National Capital Region by Wednesday evening. Flurries and light snow are likely to be passing through much of southern Ontario around the morning commute time on Wednesday -- something to keep an eye on when planning your travels for the day. Some lake-enhancement is also possible south of Lake Huron and Georgian Bay in the wake of the cold front; that could mean a better chance for more than a dusting for some spots from London to Kitchener.

(See also: Shifting magnetic poles prompts major navigation fix)

EYES ON A MAJOR SNOW RISK THIS WEEKEND

While the clipper will pass without incident for most Ontarians, what comes in its wake -- the growing cold -- will be harder to ignore. The clipper will help draw the first surge of cold air down into the province, and that cold air will be reinforced by what looks like a more-active storm track setting up later this week and the potential for a major winter snow storm on the weekend.

FROM THE MET DESK: FIRST LOOK AT A WINTRY WEEKEND

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It's too early to say how exactly this active storm track will impact us in terms of weather types, but The Weather Network forecast centre is keeping a close eye on what may be a stormy period toward the end of this week. "Scenarios still range from a track just to [the south of the Lower Great Lakes], which would bring widespread heavy snow and strong winds to our region, versus a track too far south to have an impact on our region," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham. "However, there is high impact potential with this system that we have not seen since November."

SCENARIO 1:

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SCENARIO 2:

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According to Gillham, the current forecast reflects a "conservative compromise" between these two scenarios and the details will become clearer over the next couple of days.

BITTER WINTER CHILL LOCKS IN

What's much less uncertain is the arrival of the cold air, as the coldest air of the season so far looms on the horizon for this week and into the weekend.

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Temperatures in the minus teens for the south, and the minus 20s and 30s in the north, spread across the province as the week goes on, with the core of the coldest air expected to settle in for next weekend. Afternoon wind chills are forecast to be in the -30s across northeastern Ontario next weekend, and edge into the -20s for the south.

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"Our pattern is currently in the process of making the transition to a more consistently cold pattern," says Gillham. "After January 20th, the pattern is expected to fully lock into place and dominate through the month of February and into March."

Stay with us here at The Weather Network for your latest forecast updates.

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