TORONTO — Repair crews in Ontario and Quebec restored power to more than 200,000 households after an ice storm toppled trees and brought down power lines, leaving tens of thousands of homes in the dark as Christmas approached.
About 171,000 customers of Toronto Hydro were still without power Tuesday evening, down from a peak of about 300,000, the utility said. More than 17,200 customers of Hydro Quebec remained without power, according to the utility’s website.
The Globe and Mail website reported Tuesday afternoon that Hydro One, serving most of the rest of Southern Ontario, had 50,000 customers without power, while PowerStream, serving communities just outside Toronto, had roughly 14,000 without power. New Brunswick had 40,000 without power and Nova Scotia Power had 1,500 without power.
Crews in New Brunswick were now warning the outage will last until the weekend, as ice-laden trees and branches continued to knock down lines, according to The Globe and Mail story.
The weekend storm that dumped freezing rain and snow on Canada’s two most populous provinces disrupted power supplies and disabled transport networks. Some customers in Toronto, Canada’s biggest city, probably won’t have power restored before Christmas Day, said Toronto Hydro Chief Executive Officer Anthony Haines.
“Our No. 1 priority is to get the hydro restored,” Toronto Mayor Rob Ford told reporters at City Hall. “We’re working as quick as we can,” he said. “This was a tremendous storm.”
The weekend ice storm may also have contributed to the deaths of two people from carbon monoxide poisoning in the town of Newcastle, Ont., east of Toronto. Police in Quebec said carbon monoxide poisoning is believed to be the cause of three deaths in a chalet on the province’s North Shore, according to The Globe and Mail story.
Toronto police said a 52-year-old man and his 72-year-old mother died Monday afternoon after trying to keep warm with a gas generator. The generator was in an adjoining garage to supply electricity to the house, but the fumes managed to seep inside the home.
“This is truly one of the worst ice storms we’ve seen here in Ontario,” Haines said. Residents should “plan for the worst,” he said.
Ford said there is no need to declare a state of emergency.
“Right now things are improving, things are improving quickly,” he said. “We can’t work any faster.”
“Crews are finding tree branches and power lines coated with more than an inch of ice, so restoring power is slow going,” said Greg Towns, Hydro One’s director of lines.
Winter storm hits Europe
A severe winter storm caused major travel problems in parts of western Europe on Tuesday, stranding passengers traveling for Christmas at Paris and London airports and leaving hundreds of thousands of homes without power, according to The Weather Channel website.
The storm caused four deaths in Britain, including a man who jumped into a fast-flowing river to try and rescue his dog. The severe weather also left a 12-year-old boy crushed to death beneath construction materials in Normandy, France.
In Britain, thousands of people trying to get away for the holidays were affected by reduced or canceled train services due to landslides and fallen trees and flooded roads. Power outages at London Gatwick Airport’s North Terminal caused 26 cancellations and many more delays.
The airport, the country’s second-largest, said the problems were caused by flooding from a nearby river triggered by heavy rains.
The storm unleashed powerful winds. London’s Heathrow airport recorded a 60 mph gust overnight, while winds gusted to 54 mph at Gatwick; Southampton saw a 69 mph gust Monday.
Across the English Channel, nearly all long-haul flights out of Paris’ Charles de Gaulle Airport were delayed because of the storm, according to the Paris airport authority website.
Electricity provider ERDF said the winds left nearly 200,000 homes in western France without electricity.
The Weather Channel website and the Toronto Globe and Mail contributed to this report.