Thousands remain in dark days after fierce storms knock out power

Thousands of Canadians who have been without power since ferocious winter storms last week spent Boxing Day in the cold and dark as strong winds and high tides on the west coast prompted a flood warning.

The city of Vancouver issued a flood warning Monday night, saying “exceptionally high tide and strong winds” are forecast for Tuesday due to storm surge, with a “moderate to elevated” risk in some low-lying coastal areas.

“Water levels are forecast to be at their highest at 9:00 a.m. … (on) December 27, when a king tide combined with a significant storm surge of ocean water from the storm that coming raise the tide to an all-time high,” a statement read.

On the other side of the country, utility crews in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick continued to work to restore power to thousands of customers who have been in the dark for days.

However, some train services will soon return to normal, with Via Rail announcing plans to resume trains on its Toronto-Ottawa and Toronto-Montreal routes on Tuesday, days after a CN train derailment forced the cancellation of trains. trains scheduled for Christmas and Boxing Day. .

A person jogs at the Central Experimental Farm during high winds and snow showers in Ottawa, Saturday, December 24, 2022. Environment Canada has issued a winter storm warning for the region.

CN confirmed in a statement that the tracks where its train derailed on Christmas Eve will reopen Tuesday and said Via Rail plans to operate all trains on the route, but on a modified schedule available on its website.

As of Monday night, more than 42,000 Hydro-Québec customers and more than 11,000 Hydro One customers were still without power.

New Brunswick Power had restored power Monday night to most customers affected by the storm, which it said was one of the largest province-wide power outages in the past 25 years. The utility company said just under 300 customers were still in the dark as of Monday night.

NB Power said early Monday it was confident some customers would still be without power on Tuesday.

Hydro One in Ontario said it had restored power to more than 430,000 customers since the extreme weather began, but persistent road closures were affecting its crews’ ability to access restricted areas.

“Teams have come out in full force and have gained access to Walkerton, Picton, Prince Edward County, Napanee and Trenton,” he said in a statement released Monday night.

“Efforts to reach customers in Bracebridge and Huntsville continue. Conditions in Bracebridge and Parry Sound may worsen with up to 50cm of additional snow expected.”

Hydro-Québec CEO Sophie Brochu said Monday it was difficult to provide an accurate estimate of when power would be restored for customers who did not already have it due to the complexity of the remaining jobs.

Brochu said more snow and high winds had made it difficult to access the sites, many of which were set back from roads and could only be reached by crews on snowshoes or snowmobiles. About half of the remaining outages affected five customers or fewer, meaning crews were “working really hard to get some people back on their feet,” he said.

“We could be working three, four, five hours for a team of two to restore five people,” he told reporters at a virtual press conference Monday morning. “It’s worth it, don’t get me wrong, but it means that instead of working five, six, seven hours and restoring 1,000 people, each (segment) is really slow.”

He acknowledged customer frustration with inaccurate time estimates on Hydro-Québec’s website, saying crews sometimes discover more problems once they arrive. While the “vast majority” of blackouts will be resolved by Wednesday, he couldn’t promise that no one would be in the dark by New Year’s Eve.

“No one will be forgotten,” he said. “We will have no surrender or peace until everyone is connected again.”

The Niagara region of southern Ontario was in its third day under a state of emergency Monday because of the storm, and some services like trash and recycling collection were canceled for Boxing Day.

Environment Canada issued a blizzard warning for the region and warned of reduced visibility due to snowfall that could last until Tuesday afternoon in some areas.

Other parts of southern Ontario such as Barrie, Parry Sound and Grey-Bruce remained under similar advisories Monday night.

The weather agency also issued wind, freezing rain and snow warnings for parts of Alberta, Manitoba and British Columbia, as well as extreme cold for parts of the Northwest Territories and Yukon.

Meanwhile, he said temperatures will climb well above freezing in much of southern Quebec and Atlantic Canada beginning Wednesday.

Temperatures in Montreal are expected to rise between 0C and 9C during the day and up to 7C at night. Similar conditions are expected further east, with temperatures approaching 10C in Fredericton and Saint John, NB and Charlottetown, while Halifax could hit 11C on Saturday.

The warmer weather is expected to last at least four days, through New Year’s Eve.

Environment Canada warned of ice dams due to ongoing freezing rain in the southern area from Whistler and the Fraser Valley to the Okanagan Valley, as well as a special weather declaration for much of the interior, also for possible rain. frost.

British Columbia police have said they believe icy conditions played a role in the overturning of a bus on a highway in the interior of the province on Saturday night that killed four people.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on December 26, 2022.


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