Quebec, Ontario ice storm could take days to clean up

Two women share an umbrella during an ice storm in Toronto, Dec. 22, 2013. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

Two women share an umbrella during an ice storm in Toronto, Dec. 22, 2013. (REUTERS/Mark Blinch)

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:56 PM ET

It could take days to fully recover from the weekend icestorm that left a dangerous glaze over three provinces, knocking out power and creating trecherous road conditions.

The freezing rainstorm that hit Saturday night and Sunday morning walloped much of southern and eastern Ontario, southern Quebec and New Brunswick.

Hundreds of thousands of people were left without power, including about 300,000 in Toronto, as the ice buildup downed hydro lines and trees.

Cities and town near Highway 401 along the Lake Ontario shoreline took the brunt of the storm, and sanders and salters were out in full force to improve road safety.

"I don't remember the last time we've had a major ice storm (like this) in Ontario," Environment Canada meteorologist Denis Thibodeau said Sunday.

Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne late Sunday afternoon offered the "full support" of the province to affected communities and Prime Minister Stephen Harper tweeted, "Thoughts are with those without power due to the ice storm - please stay safe."

Ontario Provincial Police and other agencies were advising people not to venture outdoors unless absolutely necessary.

On Sunday, Hydro One crews were out assessing damage and restoring power as fast as possible and the company estimated that it could take three days to restore hydro to affected homes.

Hydro One workers have been hampered by treacherous driving conditions but will continue to work to restore power throughout the day and night.

"Crews are out in full force to safely repair the damage caused by the freezing rain," Hydro One spokesman Greg Towns said in a statement. "Driving and working conditions are extremely challenging and we appreciate people's patience as we work to get the lights back on."

The OPP urged motorists not to drive unless absolutely necessary.

They say the weather may have played a role in three deaths in three separate highway accidents in Quebec on Saturday, along with a fourth in Ontario.

Freezing rain was expected to fall in Quebec's Eastern Townships Sunday, Environment Canada said.

And Hydro Quebec said the storm left up to 48,000 households without electricity.

"Total amounts of freezing precipitation will be very significant," resulting in hazardous road conditions and tree branches breaking, Environment Canada said.

The agency says power outages are also possible and that rain and freezing drizzle will also affect the Montréal area where blowing snow compounded already dangerous driving conditions.

The region will see another 5-10 cm of snow and ice pellets by the end of Sunday.

Most of southern Quebec was under a winter storm warning Sunday afternoon and about 50,000 homes in the province were without power.

“The order of the day is to stay indoors,” said Caroline Larose with Transport Quebec. “All of (southern) Quebec’s road network is covered in snow.”

A weather alert was also issued for New Brunswick, with parts of the province expected to be hit with up to 15 cm of snow as well as freezing rain. Meanwhile, most of Nova Scotia was under a winter storm warning as well.

Via Rail says you can expect some delays but does not foresee any cancellations. It advised travellers to visit viarail.ca or to call 1-888-VIA RAIL (1-888-842-7245). Airlines were also asking customers to check on-line for travel advisories and also to confirm that their flight is operating on schedule before heading to the airport.


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