THUNDER BAY — The calendar says it's spring, but Thunder Bay and area residents were digging out Wednesday from the biggest snowfall of the year.
"It's been a relentless winter" for the city, Environment Canada meteorologist Gerald Cheng said.
At the airport, Cheng said there was 34 more centimetres of snow on the ground Wednesday morning than there was 24 hours earlier.
In Neebing, a resident with monitoring equipment measured the new accumulation in his yard at 40 centimetres.
The City of Thunder Bay issued a statement saying the snowfall totalled 30 to 50 centimetres, with high wind creating drifts that were even deeper.
By late Wednesday afternoon, Environment Canada reported that accumulations at that point reached as high as 50 centimetres in some locations across the Lakehead area.
Cheng said anyone who has to remove this snow manually needs to be careful because it is very dense.
"It's hard to shovel. Be careful out there," he said.
Shoveling snow can cause heart attacks or sudden cardiac arrest in people with heart conditions.
The high water content in the snow also compounded the difficulties faced by motorists and plow operators.
City road crews started plowing arterial and collector streets at 2 a.m., but progress was slow due to the snow being so wet.
The city said local street plowing will begin after main roadways are clear, but it will be the end of the day Friday before crews get to every street.
Sidewalks won't be completed until Sunday.
Thursday will present a different kind problem, with the temperature forecast to rise to 7 C.
The city said crews will be dealing with drainage issues in addition to snow clearing.
Staff will focus on removing snow from plugged catch basins, and steaming frozen culverts and basins.
Drainage issues that pose a risk of damage to property will receive priority.