April 17th, 2024

Spring storm knocks out power to tens of thousands across Quebec, Ontario

By The Canadian Press on April 4, 2024.

A spring storm across Quebec and Ontario on Thursday knocked out power to tens of thousands of customers, closed schools and blanketed the Montreal area with heavy, wet snow.

In Quebec, more than 220,000 homes and businesses had no electricity just after noon. The province’s power utility said the affected area ranged from Gatineau, Que., in the west to Montreal’s suburbs, with strong gusts and broken tree branches cutting power lines.

“Outages are caused by vegetation that is weakened by heavy snow and gusty winds,” Hydro-Québec said on social media, adding that more than 1,000 workers were on the ground to repair infrastructure.

Hydro-Québec didn’t say when power would be restored to some locations where damage was more extensive, but it said it was confident the majority of clients would have power back by the end of the day.

“The storm is not over yet, it’s still moving through the province, so new outages could occur during the day, with significant wind gusts expected in different areas,” said spokeswoman Gabrielle Leblanc.

“Recovery time is not currently known for many locations as our teams are still assessing damage on the ground.”

The bad weather led several English-language school boards in Montreal and surrounding areas to shutter schools. Other school boards in southern Quebec closed individual schools that didn’t have electricity.

Police in Quebec reported some minor accidents but no serious injuries.

Between 15 and 25 centimetres of snow was expected to cover southern Quebec by Thursday evening. The system is heading east: the Charlevoix region, the Lower St-Lawrence and eastern Gaspé were forecast to receive similar snowfall.

An Environment Canada spokesman said the winds would remain strong throughout Thursday.

“We had gusts of nearly 60 kilometres per hour throughout the night in a fairly widespread manner,” meteorologist Jean-Philippe Bégin said. “When we look near Quebec City, the gusts are even stronger, between around 70 and 80 km/h, so this is what we should expect throughout (Thursday).”

Ontario’s hydro utility said more than 40,000 customers were without power at around noon. In a statement earlier in the day Hydro One said it had restored power to some 125,000 customers since the storm began.

A handful of flights connecting travellers between Montreal and Toronto were cancelled, Toronto Pearson Airport said.

Special advisories covered areas from southwestern Ontario to New Brunswick and Nova Scotia, where heavy, wet snow was also expected.

In Nova Scotia’s south, a wind warning was in effect, with gusts forecast to top out around 90 km/h.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published April 4, 2024.

– with files from Mathieu Paquette and Sidhartha Banerjee in Montreal.

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