Freezing rain left 800,000 people without power in Canada

Freezing rain and thunderstorms battered parts of Ontario and Quebec on Wednesday, knocking out power to about 800,000 people, according to officials.

Quebec Electric Power said shortly after 5 p.m. that more than 676,000 of its 4.5 million customers were without power, with most of the province under a freeze warning.

“What’s causing the blackout is a combination of precipitation and wind,” said Hydro-Québec spokeswoman Gabrielle LeBlanc. “This overgrows the vegetation. There may be fallen branches and trees on the line.

And in Montreal, more than 316,000 customers lost power, while the outage affected another 171,000 people in the Montregie district, south of the city.

Many of the outages occurred in a small area, each affecting a small number of customers, LeBlanc said, so crews need to fix multiple bugs to restore service to everyone.

In Montreal there have been several reports of fallen trees. The Quebec Transportation Authority said the weather had led to the closure of the Victoria Bridge, which connects Montreal to its southern suburbs.

Public Safety Minister François Bonardel said his agency had set up a coordination center to deal with the storm.

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