Fifth Worst Snowstorm in Ottawa History to Cost City $5 Million

By Barrhaven Independent Staff

There are snow storms, and then there are five million dollar snow storms.

That’s the price tag that Ottawa Mayor Jim Watson put on last week’s major snow storm, which when finished, was one of the five biggest snow storms in the city since snowfall levels were first recorded in 1890.

By the time the last flake floated down to top the pile, more than 47 centimetres of snow had blanketed the area.

In Barrhaven, most residents were pleased with the efforts and results of the workers who relentlessly plowed streets during the storm. At one point on the morning of Jan. 17, more than 8 cm of snow per hours was falling. Environment Canada reported that 12 cm of snow fell between 8-9 a.m., and another 9 cm fell between 9-10 a.m. In many years, that 21 cm of snow that fell in two hours would eclipse the largest snowfall of the year.

Roads were affected by the number of accidents on major roads and side roads. On Highway 416 between Barrhaven and Prescott, it was reported that more than 60 cars were off the road into the median or ditch. The wait time for emergencies was more than six hours because of the volume of accidents and the difficulty for response crews to navigate the conditions to get to stranded vehicles.

Mayor Jim Watson was on CFRA radio the day after the storm to discuss its impact on the city’s budget.

“The last briefing I had showed that we’re in pretty good shape because January was pretty mild, except for this major blast of it, so I think we’re in good financial shape,” he said. “We did put in extra dollars, recognizing that these storms and these snow incidents are becoming more frequent as a result of climate change, as a result of a number of different factors.”

Ottawa roads manager Bryden Denyes appeared on Ottawa CTV News and described how the day went. His quote was also used on the CTV Ottawa website.

“It’s one of the worst three-hour periods of snow I’ve seen in doing this job,” he said. “Our conditions were extremely treacherous and dangerous. We plowed areas and within half an hour, you couldn’t even tell we had been there.”

According to a chart of Ottawa snowstorms on, last week’s storm is one of the worst in Ottawa history. The top 20 storms are as follows:

55.9 cm on Jan. 29, 1894;

53.3 cm on Nov. 12, 1912;

48.3 cm on March 2, 1947;

47.8 cm on Jan. 17, 2022;

45.7 cm on Feb. 8, 1895;

45.2 cm on Feb. 19, 1960;

38.4 cm on Feb. 3, 1972;

38.1 cm on Jan. 24, 1896;

38.1 cm on March 9, 1919;

37.6 cm on Dec. 20, 1973;

37.1 cm on Feb. 16, 2016;

35.6 cm on Jan. 22, 1902;

35.6 cm on Jan. 7, 1905;

34.8 cm on Jan. 30, 1966;

33.3 cm on Jan. 14, 1968;

33.0 cm on Jan. 12, 1901;

33.0 cm on Jan. 12, 1918;

33.0 cm on Jan. 25, 1928;

33.0 cm on April 2, 1970;

32.0 cm on March 8, 2008.