Ontario storm cuts power to thousands, shuts major highway

Credit: Scotty Cudlip

 

Winds gusting up to 90 km/h in Ontario have cut electricity to more than 100,000 people, downed trees, sent debris flying and toppled at least one construction crane.

Meanwhile, the blizzard caused a series of collisions that lead to several pileups in Barrie Ont., forcing the closure of southbound lanes of Highway 400, according to Ontario Provincial Police.

OPP said around 6 p.m. that all lanes had reopened.

OPP Sgt. Peter Leon told CP24 that it was “one of the worst storms” he’s ever seen and called the driving conditions “treacherous.”

“It’s pretty much impassable on any surface that has any elevation at all,” he said.

As of Wednesday afternoon, winds had caused a crane collapse in Mississauga, Ont., causing damage but no apparent injuries, according to Fire Chief Tim Beckett.

In Hamilton, Ont., a giant KFC bucket sign fell on a taxicab, and police reported that traffic lights had stopped working and wires were down.

In nearby Oakville, Ont., Lina Quaresma says her father came home around 3 p.m. to find a pine tree had fallen on their bungalow. The tree had stood in their front yard for more than 80 years.

Quaresma said the branches punctured holes in the attic and the roof will need to be replaced. “I was shocked,” she said. “I thought I would be dead before this tree.”

In Toronto, Fire Chief Matthew Pegg said firefighters were dealing with dozens of incidents around the city, including downed electrical wires and transformer fires.

Pegg warned locals to be “vigilant” for downed wires and debris.

“Often times we’re walking and looking at our smartphone listening to music or whatever,” he told local station CP24. “My advice would be, pay attention right now.”

Tory Gass of Toronto Hydro said on Wednesday afternoon that there were at least 15,000 customers without power, with outages scattered across the city,including in the neighbourhoods of North York and Scarborough.

Toronto Hydro later updated that figure to 21,400 customers affected.

“Our biggest concern right now is wires coming down,” Gass told CP24. Those who come across a downed wire face risk of electric shock and should call 911 and stay at least 10 metres back or “about the length of a school bus,” she said.

Hydro One, which delivers electricity to many rural parts of Ontario, said mid-afternoon that more than 80,000 of its customers were without power.

Hydro Ottawa said that more than 3,000 lost power in the Gloucester-Southgate neighbourhood but service had been restored by late afternoon.

Toronto’s Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport said on Twitter that “wind and weather may pose greater challenges into the evening” and passengers should check the status of their flights with their airlines.

Toronto Pearson International Airport said on its website that it was operating normally.

Environment Canada issued warnings Wednesday morning about winds gusting up to 90 km/h for a large swath of southern Ontario and parts of Quebec, including Toronto, Montreal and Ottawa.

Source :

CTV News

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