Hydro Ottawa battling wind and rain as thousands lose power in ice storm

A mid-April ice storm has knocked out power to tens of thousands of Hydro customers across Ontario and Quebec.

Ice-coated tree branches are getting some of the blame, as they sag and snap, and hit power lines. In other cases, hydro poles themselves are snapping like twigs.

Hydro Ottawa says 18 poles on Limebank alone were snapped Monday.

Riverside South - freezing rain breaks 18 poles on Limebank Rd https://t.co/6FwLUKFd64

— Hydro Ottawa (@hydroottawa) April 16, 2018

Hydro Ottawa has been dealing with hundreds of individual outages. Some affect as few as 10 customers; others have been in the thousands.

Hydro Ottawa Director of Distribution Operations Joseph Muglia told a news conference Monday afternoon that the outages are so widespread, estimated restoration times can’t be provided.

“Every outage that we’re dealing with, because it’s widespread and there’s so many, they all have their own, individual restoration time. Some are very short, some are much more complex and much longer,” he said.

Muglia said crews have been battling the wind and the rain.

“Our folks in the field are very wet from all the rain,” he said. “So they’ve had to come in, refresh clothing, and get back out.”

Muglia said the biggest outages are being dealt with first.

“What we’re doing is we’re trying to tackle the larges outages first, the ones that are most impactful to our system,” he said, “as well as ensuring we have power to hospitals and things like that.”

Residents are reminded to call 613-738-0188 if you see a flash or a downed power line. You’re also reminded to keep your distance from downed lines.

Hydro One customers outside the city could be facing a night without power.

“We have over 350 lines, forestry, technical and support staff currently working in the region and we are dealing with 27 known broken poles at this time,” Hydro One said in a statement. “This number may rise once damage assessment is completed. We are working on restoring power by the end of day for most customers, but expect that as we uncover further damage some customers will remain without power into tomorrow.”

Hydro Quebec says it’s been dealing with over 100 outages across the Outaouais region, affecting tens of thousands. Other regions in Quebec have been affected by outages as well, but the Outaouais was the hardest hit. In most cases, those power outages are related to tree branches downing power lines.