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Many parts of Canada are set to get their first significant taste of winter snow this year with what’s expected to be a major storm ready to play out. Across the country on Tuesday, Environment Canada has winter storm watches and warnings in place, as well as special weather statements warning of the potential for extreme cold, heavy snow and a rain-snow mix in certain areas. These conditions, especially when they arrive for the first time of the season, can catch commuters off guard and they need to adjust, Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said. “A lot of it is just people getting caught by surprise, not understanding how different the road conditions are with the rain, snow, ice – and how that changes your ability to stay in control,” he told Global News. “We often see much more collisions; often they’re fender-benders and single-vehicle crashes or minor collisions, but they’re absolutely preventable.” Canadians to feel ‘winter bite’ throughout week: meteorologist After what felt like a mild start to winter in most parts of the country, Canadians this week will finally experience the inevitable. “All areas in Canada will be really feeling the winter bite this week,” Global News meteorologist Peter Quinlan said on Sunday. Some of the winter weather is already hitting parts of the West Coast, and in the Prairies, northern Saskatchewan has an extreme cold warning with locations like Stony Rapids and Fond-du-Lac to see temperatures reaching as low as -45 C. Ottawa, Montreal and Quebec City are all set to be hit with snowfall starting Tuesday into Wednesday morning. Snowfall amounts will range depending on where you live, with Ottawa getting around 10 to 20 centimetres, while other parts of Ontario could see between 15 and 30 centimetres. The Greater Toronto-Hamilton Area will see a bit less, with Global News meteorologist Ross Hull forecasting snow to begin Tuesday morning for much of southern Ontario, likely at the end of the morning commute, with two to five centimetres of wet snow likely by the afternoon. Get the latest National news. Sent to your email, every day. The Maritimes are also expected to see snowfall on Wednesday, though exact amounts are not yet known. Environment Canada adds that wind and rain will accompany the weather. How to transition to winter commuting Schmidt, who works with the OPP’s highway safety division, told Global News that around this time of year, commuters need to change their habits to stay safe. That starts with the posted speed limit, said Kristine D’Arbelles, senior director of public affairs with CAA. “Whether on the highway, in a residential area or close to your office, it is posted for ideal weather and a snowstorm is, of course, not ideal weather,” she told Global News. “If you are going to be on the road during this storm, it is super important to respect the speed limit. If not, go a little bit slower and more importantly, leave plenty of room between you and the vehicle in front of you so that you have plenty of stopping distance and you can make sure that everyone ends up home safely.” Schmidt added that drivers should have their lights on, even when the conditions may not call for it. “Turn on your full headlighting system all the time, even in conditions when you think it’s bright,” he said. “The more light you have, the better it is, and if you’re in a collision, you’re sitting sideways, it’s hard to be seen.” This time of year can be particularly challenging for vulnerable road users like pedestrians and cyclists. Schmidt and D’Arbelles advise them not to wear dark clothing when out, among other measures. “Have your head on a swivel and assume the drivers don’t see you. Make sure you make eye contact if you’re crossing out in front of stopped traffic,” Schmidt said. “Have lights on your bicycle or e-bike and just be aware of your surroundings. We want drivers, pedestrians, cyclists and all road users to share the road safely, responsibly. But as a vulnerable road user, you’re the ones that are especially susceptible to injury, and we just want you to make sure you are safe and taking care of yourself.” What to do in a collision If a collision occurs, both Schmidt and D’Arbelles advise those involved to stay calm. “If you somehow end up in a fender bender with another vehicle, move off the live lanes, get to the shoulder, get to the side of the road, get off the highway altogether because you’re far too vulnerable in a live lane,” Schmidt said. “Stay in your vehicle — that’s probably the safest place for you to be after a collision event. Keep your seatbelt on, and make sure you get that cellphone and that charger, call 911 if you’re blocking lanes.” D’Arbelles said commuters should have an emergency kit handy as well, which could include extra hats and gloves, batteries, water bottles, snacks, booster cables, first aid kits and abrasive materials like kitty litter to get unstuck. Most of all, in severe weather, make sure you give yourself extra time to commute, D’Arbelles added. “Often collisions happen when we might be a little bit stressed or rushing to get to a location,” she said. “Don’t trust what the GPS says. If the GPS says it’s going to take you 20 minutes, add 10 minutes if you can, this way you have plenty of time to get to your destination; you don’t feel rushed, and this means that you can completely do the speed limit, even go a little bit slower, and make sure that you’re paying full attention to the road and to everyone around you.” — with files from Global News’ Sean Previl Montreal teens hailed as heroes for saving couple from drowning in Barbados Iranian man disputes security label after refused permit to study in Canada Quebec schools can stay open during March break, but it’s not mandatory Canada weighs ‘responsibly’ listing Iran’s IRGC as terror group, Trudeau says