UPDATED: Freezing rain and wet, heavy snow create power problems

Thousands of Hydro Ottawa customers lost electricity late Tuesday and on Wednesday as crews coped with power outages across the city.

In many cases, lines were brought down by tree branches heavily laden with freezing rain and wet snow.

In a written statement, issued Wednesday afternoon, Hydro Ottawa said 4,380 customers were still without power by 4:00 p.m. A total of 96 outages had been reported, many of them affecting fewer than 10 customers each. Crews are prepared to work throughout the night, if necessary, to restore power. As of 5:15 p.m. the latest estimated restoration time for Hydro Ottawa customers was 9:30 p.m. Wednesday.

Part of O'Connor Street was closed for much of the day Wednesday, as hydro crews worked to restore power in the area.

Hydro Ottawa also says 35 arborists have been contracted, to help trim trees and clear overhead lines across the city.

The City of Ottawa set up two warming centres for residents who may be without power as temperatures drop Wednesday night. They can be found at the Heron Road Community Centre, 1480 Heron Road, and at the Ron Kolbus Lakeside Centre at 102 Greenview Avenue.

In eastern Ontario, about 10,000 Hydro One customers lost power overnight and early Wednesday morning.

Hydro One's number of outages fluctuated, climbing above 35,000 at times.

Homes east of the city were told their power would be back by midnight in the valley west of the city may be waiting until 4:00 p.m. Thursday to have service restored. Customers in the Bancroft area could be waiting until 10:00 p.m. Thursday.

Hydro One spokesperson Tiziana Baccega Rosa says the extended restoration times are based on information provided by crews on the ground.

"We want to be as realistic with our customers as we can, so they can make their right decisions for themselves," she says. "We've got crews in the area and damage assessors, so they know based on the work being done, and the number of customers affected."

Hydro One crews from outside eastern Ontario have been brought in to help restore power, and relieve eastern Ontario crews who had been working overnight.

By late Wednesday afternoon, the number of Hydro One customers without power had dropped to about 18,000 in eastern and central-eastern Ontario, but Baccega Rosa says crews are prepared for more outages as forecasted heavy winds move through the area.

Western Quebec was also hit hard, with as many as 22,000 customers losing electricity. In the Outaouais, that number had dropped to about 8,400 by late Wednesday afternoon.