Two dead, over a million without power after ice storm hits Canada

Two Dead, Over A Million Without Power After Ice Storm Hits Canada

An ice storm hit Canada’s two most populated provinces, Quebec and Ontario, causing power outages for over a million residents. The storm brought freezing rain and strong winds that toppled trees and weighed down power lines. As of 4 p.m. (2000 GMT), Poweroutage.com reported just under a million people without power in Quebec and about 110,000 in Ontario. Outages combined for both provinces had crossed at least 1.3 million earlier in the day. The two provinces account for more than half of Canada’s total population of about 39 million.

The Aftermath of the Ice Storm

Electricity providers in both provinces were working to restore power, but repairs were expected to continue for days, meaning many Canadians could spend Easter weekend in the dark. One man was killed in Quebec when a tree fell on him, Premier Francois Legault said at a briefing, cautioning people to watch out for live wires and weakened trees. Another man died in eastern Ontario when he was struck by a falling branch, broadcaster CTV News reported. Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, who was elected to parliament in a Montreal constituency, offered to provide federal assistance if required.

A view shows the landscape after an ice storm, in Apple Hill, Ontario, Canada, on April 6, 2023, in this picture obtained from social media. Montreal is among the worst hit areas in Quebec, accounting for about half of the total outages in the largely French-speaking province. Hydro-Quebec was hoping to restore power for about 70% of customers by Friday midnight, an executive at the utility said in a televised briefing.

Unfortunately, it is the start of a long weekend, and certain areas are more complex that we will not be able to reconnect immediately, said Regis Tellier, Hydro-Quebec’s vice president of operations and maintenance.

In the city of Ottawa, crews were expected to restore power for a large portion of some 65,000 affected customers by noon, Mayor Mark Sutcliffe said. Some areas in the national capital “remain hazardous due to fallen debris and power outages affecting traffic signals,” Sutcliffe said.

Causes of the Ice Storm

The ice storm was caused by a low-pressure system that brought a mix of snow, freezing rain, and strong winds to eastern Canada, starting early on Wednesday morning. Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for much of southern Quebec and eastern Ontario, warning that “an intense winter storm will impact southern Quebec and eastern Ontario with freezing rain, ice pellets, and strong winds.”

In Quebec, the freezing rain started Wednesday morning in the Montreal area, then spread to the south and east of the province, according to Environment Canada. In Montreal, ice coated trees, cars, and sidewalks, making travel treacherous. Many schools and businesses closed, and residents were urged to stay home.

Consequences of the Ice Storm

The ice storm caused severe damage to the power infrastructure in Quebec and Ontario, with hundreds of thousands of customers left without electricity. The Canadian Red Cross opened warming centers in some communities, and emergency responders were busy dealing with downed trees and power lines.

The ice storm is a reminder of the vulnerability of power grids to extreme weather events, which are becoming more frequent and severe due to climate change. Experts warn that power outages are likely to become more common in the future, as the climate continues to warm.

Conclusion

The recent ice storm that struck Quebec and Ontario has resulted in extensive power outages and substantial damage to the affected areas. Repair efforts are ongoing, and it is likely that many Canadians will be without power throughout the Easter weekend.

This natural disaster serves as a poignant reminder of the power grid’s vulnerability to extreme weather events, which are becoming increasingly common due to climate change. As such, it is imperative that we take proactive steps to strengthen our infrastructure and develop more resilient systems to prepare for future weather-related crises. Only by working together to address these challenges can we ensure the safety and well-being of our communities in the face of climate change.