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Thousands without power in southern Quebec as cold front moves in

Environment and Climate Change Canada is warning puddles could turn into skating rinks and roads and sidewalks could become icy and dangerous. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Environment and Climate Change Canada is warning puddles could turn into skating rinks and roads and sidewalks could become icy and dangerous. (Ivanoh Demers/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Power outages affected thousands of customers in southern Quebec Wednesday evening.

Hydro-Québec reported more than 141,000 customers were without power, with the majority being in the Montérégie and Outaouais regions. Most outages were in Montreal and the Montérégie region.

Service on Montreal's light-rail network, Réseau express métropolitain (REM), stopped in both directions due to a power outage, according to the REM's website.

As quickly as record-breaking warm temperatures settled upon Montreal earlier in the day, the vigorous cold front began sweeping in Wednesday evening, prompting a flash freeze and wind warning for the Montreal area and much of southern Quebec.

Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) forecast that temperatures were expected to suddenly drop within just a few hours in the evening, causing water from rain or melted snow on streets and sidewalks to quickly freeze.

Montreal expected to see rain for much of the day Wednesday and temperatures of 13 C. At night, temperatures will plummet to –13, with a wind chill of –24.

ECCC warns roads can become very slippery and lead to difficult and dangerous travel conditions.

Violent westerly winds of up to 90 km/h are also expected Wednesday evening and heavy rain warnings are in effect for certain regions of Quebec.

Meteorologist Michèle Fleury said these sorts of fluctuations in temperature are very common when transitioning from winter to spring.

"We're seeing the air masses fight for power over the province," she said. "So throughout March, we can expect variations of temperature."

The weather warnings came a day after Montreal hit a record 14.9 degrees C on Tuesday. The previous record for Feb. 27 was set in 2000, when temperatures hit 10.9 C.