STRATFORD – Much of Southern Ontario is seeing white as snow begins to fly, but some areas are going to be hit harder than others.

The City of Stratford is bracing for between 20 and 30 cm of snow in the next 24 hours.

The city was hoping to be cleaning its streets on Thursday and to pick up leaves.

If the lake effect system drops as much snow as is expected, those plans will of course change.

The skies as of noon were overcast and dry, but city staff say they're ready to go if they open up.

"We have shifting on already, so we have a midnight shift to cover that snowfall if it does happen," says Adam Ryan, manager of public works.

"Again, all of our equipment is prepared so we have ample salt storage, ample sand storage, so we are prepared if it does come."

Salt has already been laid on some major roadways and plows are out practicing their routes.

Stratford Police also tweeted a reminder Thursday morning that drivers need to make sure they clean off their cars and leave extra space during winter conditions.

Environment Canada warns that lake effect snow can be very abrupt and that conditions can change very quickly. On Thursday afternoon, it placed much of Perth and Huron Counties under a snow squall watch.

"Snow squalls are developing off Lake Huron and will continue through Friday afternoon. The most intense bands are expected tonight with conditions slowly improving through the day Friday," the service says in part on its website.

"Strong winds may accompany these bands resulting in blowing snow at times."

In Huron County, total accumulation could hit as much as 40 cm.