Monday, 5 January 2015

Prolonged freezing rain leaves 150,000 in the dark

All over southern Quebec and here on L'Ile Perrot power was out as trees weighed down with 15-25mm of ice came in contact with hydro wires. (ValleyWX)
 It was supposed to be 10C (50F) on Sunday, but we did not even come close, squeezing out a 3C (38F) for a brief period late in the day. A nasty warm front and low pressure area dumped nearly 50mm (2 inches) of precipitation on southern Quebec from late Saturday afternoon through Sunday. The bulk of that fell as snow on Saturday with 10-20cm (4-8 inches) across the region. However on Sunday warm air streaming over the trapped cold air in the St. Lawrence Valley produced a nasty mix of sleet and freezing rain. Almost 15 hours of freezing rain in Montreal produced icy roads and sidewalks and brought down trees on power lines and cars. Power was out to over 150,000 Hydro Quebec customers, most of those in the Montreal and South Shore areas. My sister in Verdun had no power for over 15 hours. Those numbers are down to around 7000 this morning. Montreal caught a break around 7pm last night when some of the warm air briefly worked its way down to the surface and melted the ice off the trees and power grid. This saved us big time from further damage and outages as the temperatures quickly fell back below freezing by 9pm and winds picked up to over 75km/h at Trudeau Airport.

A hydro transformer explodes as a result of  freezing rain on the South Shore of Montreal. 
Photo via Twitter @CTVBeauchemin
We are left this morning in Montreal with lots and lots of thick ice as well as brutal cold, -13C (9F) with a 60km/h wind and a windchill of -25C (-13F). Ottawa is at -17C (2F) with a windchill of -29C (-20F). It is cold and will stay that way throughout the week. Two clipper systems will bring us flurries (1-3cm) Wednesday and Friday with reinforcing shots of arctic air behind them. Winds will be gusty all week creating dangerous windchill values. Temperatures will be in the minus teens for highs and -20's for lows.

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