TORONTO — A powerful windstorm sweeping through southern Ontario and eastern Quebec on Wednesday knocked out power to tens of thousands of people and disrupted travel in the air and on the roads.
Environment Canada issued a wind warning for the region, saying residents should brace for hazardous road conditions. The warning was lifted at around 8 p.m. Wednesday.
“Roads may be slippery at times locally this evening and overnight,” the weather agency said. “Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur.”
Ontario power utility Hydro One said more than 80,000 of its customers were without power Wednesday afternoon, but that number was down to about 44,000 by late Wednesday. Toronto Hydro said about 3,000 customers remained without power as midnight approached, down from a peak of about 21,000 earlier in the day.
West of the city, Alectra Utilities said about 15,000 customers were without power in Hamilton and Mississauga, Ont. There were also numerous reports of downed power lines.
Hydro Quebec was reporting more than 65,000 outages as of 11 p.m. Wednesday, primarily in the suburbs south of Montreal.
Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Tori Gass said blackouts scattered throughout the city were directly related to the wind, which had been gusting upwards of 90 kilometres per hour. She said extra crews had been on standby and were working to fix the downed lines and repair the outages.
In a statement online, Hydro One said the community of Minden in central Ontario was hit hard by the storm, with more than 12,000 outages reported Wednesday afternoon.
“The high winds have caused 297 outages affecting over 84,000 customers,” the statement said. “It is expected that the high winds will continue throughout the evening, increasing the potential for further damage. Where safe, Hydro One crews are out assessing damage and restoring power to customers.”
Meanwhile, provincial police said up to 50 vehicles were involved in a major collision on a busy highway north of Toronto.
OPP Sgt. Kerry Schmidt said on Twitter that there were no serious injuries in the crash on Highway 400 near Barrie, Ont., which he said “appears weather-related.”
In eastern Ontario, a pedestrian was hit by a tree knocked down by the wind. Const. Adam Donaldson with Belleville, Ont. police said the person was taken to hospital with minor injuries.
“It’s wind anarchy in our city right now, there are trees falling down everywhere,” Donaldson said.
West of Toronto, the fierce winds caused a crane to partially collapse in Mississauga, Ont. Const. Bally Saini, a spokeswoman with Peel Regional Police, said no injuries were reported, but officers were on scene to ensure no one would be hurt as crews worked to stabilize the crane.
The windstorm also caused problems in the air, with national transportation agency NAV Canada slowing the rate of landings at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.
“There are a few delays on account of the weather but planes are still arriving and departing,” said Natalie Moncur, a spokeswoman for the Greater Toronto Airports Authority.
Toronto’s downtown Billy Bishop airport tweeted that “crews are working hard to keep flights moving, but wind and weather may pose greater challenges into the evening.”
Daniela Germano and Adam Burns, The Canadian Press