Toronto woman killed by wind-blown sign; storm disrupts power to 200,000 people
Last Updated: Oct 30, 2012
The worst of post-tropical storm Sandy may have passed for most of the central and eastern provinces, but work to clean up the damage and restore power continues amid predictions the storm’s effects will still be felt for days.
The massive storm system churned northward after barrelling through the northeastern U.S. — where it has caused flooding, widespread power outages and more than a dozen deaths — and brought strong winds and heavy rain to southern Ontario, Quebec and parts of the Maritimes.
“We’re still expecting a rain event for the Maritimes,” said CBC weather specialist Craig Larkins. “Parts of Nova Scotia and New Brunswick could see 50-70 millimeters of rain.”
Larkins said the western edge of Lake Michigan was experiencing powerful winds as Sandy continued to reach into Canada with rain for Southern Ontario.
Winds speeds are expected to diminish into the evening hours Tuesday.
The superstorm, named for its size, left more than 200,000 people across Ontario and parts of Quebec without power, impeded Toronto transit systems, and triggered the cancellation of a quarter of all flights at Toronto Pearson Airport.
Tuesday afternoon, Ontario Energy Minister Chris Bentley said the province had reached the peak of its expected outages and credited hydro crews across the province for restoring power quickly.
“I would say most customers are going to see their power restored in the next 24 hours,” said Bentley, adding the timeline may be a bit longer for more remote areas.
By late Tuesday afternoon there were 50,000 people without power in Ontario.
Hydro-Québec said they were working to restore power to the 20,000 in the Laurentians and Lanaudiere regions.
The utility said most of those people will have service restored by late this evening.
Superstorm Sandy key impacts in Canada:
Environment Canada’s warning preparedness meteorologist Geoff Coulson said while winds from the storm were slowing, the grey skies won’t clear just yet.
He told The Canadian Press clouds will linger for the next few days, along with on-and-off showers, because of the slow-moving nature of the storm.
For property owners, Sandy’s unrelenting winds were the greatest concern.
Southern Ontario bore the brunt of the storm after it moved into the region Monday evening, with powerful winds described as more of a concern than the rain.
But Tuesday morning, Environment Canada had ended wind warnings for most of southern Ontario. Earlier, Sarnia, in southwestern Ontario, had among the highest gusts at 100 km/h.
Sarnia Mayor Mike Bradley told CBC News that waves on the community’s shores reached six to nine metres overnight, the highest in recent memory.
“This is a storm reminding some people of Hurricane Hazel [in 1954], thank goodness not in the loss of life, but in the duration and anger of the storm.” he told CBC News.
“No one has seen the St. Clair River look like this for at least a generation.”
Powerful gusts from the storm claimed a life in Monday night in Toronto. Police say a woman was killed by a falling sign as winds of 65 km/h whipped through the city.
Toronto Police sit at a taped off Staples outlet parking lot after strong storm winds caused a piece of a sign to fall, killing one, in Toronto on Monday. (Victor Biro/Canadian Press)
The woman, in her 50s, was hit in the head by a sign panel measuring about two-metres wide while walking in a commercial parking lot near Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue. The panel was ripped off by a strong gust of wind, police say. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sandy was unleashing its wrath on New York City at the time, but the Canadian Hurricane Centre said the impact of the weather system extended over a thousand kilometres from the storm’s centre.
At one point, about 150,000 people in Ontario were without power, with an estimated 800 storm-related outages reported, Energy Minister Chris Bentley said.
The most heavily affected areas were in Toronto, Waterloo, Peterborough, Owen Sound and Sarnia, he said.
As many as 55,000 people in Toronto were in the dark overnight, Jennifer Link, a spokewoman for Toronto Hydro told CBC News. This figure has come down to roughly 45,000, as emergency crews work to resolve outages across the city, Toronto Hydro said.
An additional 90,000 people in several other communities across southern Ontario were without power, according to Hydro One.
And in Quebec, about 48,000 homes and businesses in the province were without power. Roughly 28,000 of those customers are in the Laurentians, although the Lanaudiere and Monteregie regions were also affected.
Meanwhile, the weather also caused transportation headaches.
Several Toronto buses and streetcars were being diverted due to fallen tree limbs, hydro poles and downed wires, according to the Toronto Transit Commission.
At Toronto’s Pearson Airport, about 25 per cent of all incoming and departing flights were cancelled Tuesday morning in the wake of the superstorm.
Flights were also delayed or cancelled due to weather at Ottawa International Airport and Montreal-Trudeau Airport, according to their websites.
As well, gusts from Sandy on Monday caused a Nova-Scotia built tall ship to sink, leaving one crew member dead and the captain missing.
Wind warnings were in effect for much of southern Ontario, from southern Georgian Bay to Kingston, Ont., and along the St. Lawrence River, but were lifted by about 7 a.m. ET Tuesday.
A warning remained in effect in Sarnia until early afternoon. A wind warning also remains in place for the Quebec City region, the Canadian Hurricane Centre said.
Parts of southern Quebec and southwestern Nova Scotia were also be whipped by strong winds, but the gusts were not blowing as hard as in Ontario.
As the storm swirled its way north, officials were urging people in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes to take precautions through the day.
At their strongest predicted point Tuesday, the winds could down trees, hurl debris through neighbourhoods, create difficulties for motorists on highways and even make it difficult to walk down a street, said Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada’s Ontario Storm Prediction Centre.
“If somebody loses their balance, they could get knocked over,” he said.
Higher than normal water levels and pounding surf was expected along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and along the St. Lawrence River. Forecasters were warning that some coastal flooding could be seen in the Quebec City region.
Superstorm Sandy’s strong gusts of wind felled several trees across Toronto. (Frank Gunn/Canadian Press)
“[It] will likely be most pronounced in the Niagara Region and even more so south of Lake Huron as northerly winds are intensified with little friction over a long stretch on this north to south oriented lake,” Kuhn said.
Sandy brought mixed precipitation to northern Ontario, with snow, ice pellets and freezing rain around Timmins and Cochrane.
In Quebec, a storm surge warning was in effect for the St. Lawrence amid a forecast of strong wind gusts.
While heavy rain was also expected, forecasters said it would come in sporadic bursts.
Southern Ontario was expecting between 20-40 millimetres of rain, although some areas were to receive higher amounts, according to Environment Canada.
The precipitation could turn into snow over parts of Ontario and western Quebec, said Environment Canada.
The southwestern Maritimes were also expected to experience a soggy day with rain that could persist into Wednesday with total amounts possibly exceeding 50 millimetres.
Many Canadians living in Sandy’s path have taken to Twitter and Facebook to discuss the power outages, rattling windows and damage to backyards caused by the storm. However, some fake photos of Sandy’s aftermath were being circulated on various social media networks.
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews said the military and the Canadian Coast Guard would be on standby to help grapple with any havoc wreaked by Sandy.
Health Canada was conducting generator checks and has reviewed the National Emergency Stockpile, which contains supplies such as beds, blankets and antibiotics. Meanwhile, the Red Cross said it had 550 volunteers on standby in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.
For people living in the storm’s path, the Red Cross advises assembling an emergency kit with:
Sandy was expected to weaken through the day, notably starting around lunchtime, said Environment Canada meteorologist Etienne Gregoire.
“Typically, hurricanes, when they make landfall and become post-tropical [cyclones], they lose about 50 per cent of their energy in the first 24 hours. So we’re going to see the remnants of Sandy really diminish in intensity through day,” he told CBC News.
Environment Canada expected winds in Ontario to drop to between 40 and 60 kilometres per hour in the afternoon and predicted gusts between 30 and 50 kilometres an hour by the evening.
Sandy made landfall in the U.S. Monday evening, just after forecasters stripped it of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature.
It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it was still dangerous to the tens of millions in its path.
The storm killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Atlantic.
Projected path for post-tropical storm Sandy
Source: Canadian Press, Map data: NOAA, OpenStreetMap