Thousands without power as freezing rain, thunderstorms hit Ontario and Quebec
Posted April 5, 2023 7:08 pm.
Last Updated April 5, 2023 7:18 pm.
About 800,000 people in Ontario and Quebec were without power Wednesday after a messy mix of freezing rain, and thunderstorms pummeled parts of both provinces.
Quebec’s power utility said shortly after 5 p.m. that more than 676,000 of its 4.5 million customers had no power, with much of the province under a freezing rain warning.
“What’s causing the outages is the mixture of precipitation and wind,” Hydro-Quebec spokeswoman Gabrielle Leblanc said. “It weighs down the vegetation; there can be branches and trees that fall on the lines.”
In western Quebec’s Outaouais region, near Ottawa, about 120,000 of the utility’s nearly 227,000 customers were without power. Environment Canada forecasted between 30 millimetres and 50 millimetres of rain in Gatineau, Que., the largest city in the region.
In Montreal, more than 316,000 hydro customers had lost power, while another 171,000 people were dealing with outages in the Monteregie region, south of the city. Up to 20 millimetres of freezing rain is expected, Environment Canada said, adding that 16 millimetres of freezing rain had fallen in Montreal by 2 p.m.
Hydro One crews responding on Ontario
Leblanc said hydro crews were working overtime, but he said many of the outages are small, affecting only a few customers and making it more difficult to reconnect large numbers of people.
“Crews that were scheduled to finish at 5 p.m. will stay until 11 p.m. to get as much done as possible,” Leblanc said.
In Montreal, there were numerous reports of downed trees. City police said 911 was receiving a high volume of calls on Wednesday afternoon and asked people not to call to report damage to vehicles.
Transport Quebec said weather conditions forced it to close the Victoria Bridge, which connects Montreal with its southern suburbs. Public Security Minister Francois Bonnardel said his department has put a coordination centre in place to deal with the storm.
“If you have to drive, adjust your driving and be careful,” he said on Twitter.
Hydro One said crews were still responding to outages in Ontario as quickly and safely as possible, but severe weather was slowing the response. An outage map showed more than 120,000 customers in the province without power by late afternoon.
“Our crews are restoring power to over 120,000 customers after high winds and severe thunderstorms have caused significant damage,” the utility said in an afternoon statement.
The reported outages were concentrated in central Ontario, where Environment Canada issued weather warnings and forecasts of around 50 millimetres of rainfall from morning into night.
In eastern Ontario, the agency called for prolonged periods of freezing rain with ice storm conditions continuing into the evening, which prompted school bus cancellations earlier in the morning in Ottawa.
Several southern regions, including Niagara, Windsor and Hamilton, remained under severe thunderstorm watch late Wednesday, with the weather agency warning of nickel-sized hail and wind gusts near 90 kilometres per hour.
Some GO trains had been delayed, and river flood warnings were in place for a number of regions along Lake Erie after thunderstorms rolled through southwestern Ontario in the morning.
Meanwhile, northern Ontario was under winter storm warnings, with the forecast calling for between 15 and 25 centimetres of snow and ice accumulation before tapering off to flurries by early Thursday morning.