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Jan 5, 2015

04:44:06 GMT--Power Outage - North-America - Canada

EDIS Number: PW-20150105-46551-CAN

Date / time: 05/01/2015 04:42:19 [UTC]

Event: Power Outage

Area: North-America

Country: Canada

State/County: Province of Quebec

Location: [Montral and southern Quebec]

Number of Deads: N/A

Number of Injured: N/A

Number of Infected: N/A

Number of Missing: N/A

Number of Affected: N/A

Number of Evacuated: N/A

Damage level: Heavy


As Hydro-Quebec linemen scrambled Sunday night to restore power to thousands of households across the province, strong winds continued to cause more blackouts in Montreal and much of southern Quebec. An ice storm that dumped more than 10 centimetres of heavy snow, followed by freezing rain, left much of the greater Montreal area paralyzed Sunday, causing widespread blackouts, toppling trees and turning sidewalks into sheets of ice and stretches of road into large ponds of slushy water. "We have more than 160 crews on the ground restoring power as quickly as they can, but at this moment it's not easy to say when all our clients will get their power back," Hydro-Quebec official Mathieu Rouy said. "The situation is evolving. With all the freezing rain, we're going to have branches breaking and falling on the grid in the coming hours and through the night also." Rouy added that "it's certainly possible" that some households will be without power Monday morning. At its peak, more than 150,000 Hydro-Quebec customers were left without power Sunday. Environment Canada issued a severe weather bulletin, warning of the possibility of more power outages and urging motorists to "take extra care" when driving. Its forecast called for more rain and drizzle Sunday night, with winds gusting up to 60 km/h and temperatures climbing to 3 C, before dropping to -10 C overnight. If you must travel, allow yourself plenty of extra time to dig out your car and to de-ice its windows. Roads are still expected to be icy Monday, even though the city of Montreal launched a snow-clearing blitz on Sunday. Highway conditions were treacherous Sunday, with large slush puddles accumulating at the entrance to the Jacques-Cartier Bridge and other stretches of road. A section of Highway 40 in Kirkland was "partly ice covered," although visibility was good, according to Transports Quebec. The Surete du Quebec reported in the afternoon that there were several minor accidents as a result of road conditions in southern Quebec, but there were no highway closures. The Monteregie was the most slippery spot for drivers in the morning: about 50 cars slid off the road in the region, SQ spokesperson Genevieve Bruneau said. Transports Quebec encourages motorists to check its website, Quebec 511, for updates on road conditions. Across Montreal, blue-collar crews were out in full force, spraying abrasives on the streets and sidewalks. The crews were planning to work all day and night to minimize the impact of the slippery conditions on Monday morning commuters, city official Fran├žois Goneau said.

"We want the sidewalks and streets to be as safe as possible," Goneau added. "Our workers are paying close attention to the latest weather reports because they use different abrasives depending on the temperature and how cold it gets." At Montreal's Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport, many flights were delayed or cancelled. Some passengers waited for up to 90 minutes in planes on the tarmac. "There have been significant delays today due to the de-icing," said Fran├žois Asselin, a spokesperson for Aeroports de Montreal. "During the peak period of delays, some planes were waiting for 90 minutes at the de-icing bay, but now we're back on track. "In the next few days we will look more carefully at the data and see what happened," Asselin added. Meanwhile, Via Rail reported that all its trains were operating normally along the Windsor-Quebec City corridor, and was planning to "add capacity where possible to meet the increased demand." Hydro crews made significant progress from 4 p.m. to 8 p.m., restoring power to more than 50,000 households. As of 8 p.m., Montreal Island was the most blacked-out region in Quebec, with much of the West Island without power. The Monteregie was also hard hit, with more than 44,000 households deprived of electricity. Serge Abergel, a Hydro-Quebec spokesperson, said on Sunday night that the utility called in private contractors in addition to its own crews. Although power was being restored steadily, Abergel could not rule out more blackouts because of the unpredictable nature of the wind. People took to Twitter to report the latest details of the blackouts in their neighbourhoods - from leaning Hydro poles to exploding transformers. Montreal hospital emergency rooms were not busier than usual, but doctors did expect to treat an increasing number of people for wrist, hip and leg fractures in the coming days. "Very often, it's the day after an ice storm that people come in with fractures, and a few days after that, we get some more people," said Frederic Dankoff, medical coordinator of the adult hospitals of the McGill University Health Centre. "As long as the ice is on the sidewalk, people have to exercise the same caution as on the first day they saw it come down." Dankoff also advised homeowners who might still not have power not to heat their home with a barbecue or other makeshift device, warning that this could lead to carbon monoxide poisoning. Environment Canada is forecasting that skies will clear by Monday morning, and it will still be windy. By the afternoon, the winds should subside to gusts of up 40 km/h, but the temperature is expected to plunge to -17 C.

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