Tens of thousands without power as Ontario ice storm turns to downpour

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Tens of thousands of people in the Greater Toronto Area and southern Ontario are without power this morning after a spring ice storm lashed the province two days in a row.

Toronto Hydro crews are working to restore power to some 10,000 customers in the city, while 68,000 customers of the provincial utility Hydro One are disconnected. 

High winds of more than 100 km/h in some areas and heavy rain overnight snapped limbs from trees, downing power lines and poles. 

“The wind was more damaging than the freezing rain was,” said Tori Gass, spokesperson for Toronto Hydro.

“At the height of the storm, we had 44,000 customers who were out. And now we’re down to 23,000. We are making progress but still have a ways to go.”

Gass said that at the storm’s peak overnight, there were some 425 outages across the city.

While winds have started to dissipate, a rain warning remains in effect for much of southern Ontario. 

“It’s definitely not making it easy for crews,” said Gass.

Crews were undergoing a shift change, as many of those working early Monday morning were on the job all weekend. 

“Still, it’s all hands on deck.”

Crews work to remove a fallen tree on Southwood Drive in Toronto during an ice storm that hit parts of Ontario on the weekend. (Alison Chiasson/CBC)

Highway 400 closed near Barrie

The conditions are already causing problems for morning drivers.

According to Ontario Provincial Police, all northbound and southbound lanes of Highway 400 are closed between Maple View Drive and Innisfil Beach Road due to a crash.

“We’ve got sheets of ice covering many parts of highways. We have multiple collisions involving transport trucks,” said OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt in a video posted to Twitter. 

Crews are trying to clear the highway of debris, but the clean-up will likely take all morning, Schmidt said. 

Provincial police reported more than 1,450 non-fatal crashes over the weekend, and warned drivers early Monday to be prepared for dangerous road conditions. 

The storm also played havoc with air traffic.

More than 600 flights were cancelled at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and many others were delayed — often for hours. Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop airport cancelled all departing flights on Sunday and received only one arrival all day.

http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/toronto/ontario-ice-storm-rain-hydro-power-out-1.4621121?cmp=rss