Thousands may not have power until Friday evening in southwest Ontario

TORONTO — Thousands of residents in communities near Lake Erie will have to wait until Friday night to have their power restored, Hydro One said Thursday as it worked to restore electricity to tens of thousands of Ontario customers following a winter storm.

More than 25,000 customers across Ontario remained without power on Thursday afternoon, the utility said, but crews were working to bring the lights back on for many by the end of the day.

Spokesperson Tiziana Baccega-Rosa said communities along the shoreline of Lake Erie – including the towns of Aylmer and Essex, and the county of Kent – were among the hardest hit with "significant" power outages.

Hydro One's outage map indicated more than 13,000 customers in the town of Essex are expected to remain without power until Friday afternoon.

In Aylmer, more than two dozen hydro poles had been knocked down due to strong winds and ice buildup, Baccega-Rosa said, leaving some 4,500 customers in the area without power. Their electricity isn't expected to be restored until late Friday.

"Our goal is always to restore power to customers as quickly and safely as possible. We know it's really challenging to be without power," she said in a phone interview.

Baccega-Rosa said Hydro One had diverted staff from unaffected regions and was working with other contractors to restore power lines in affected areas.

“We really are putting all of the available resources ... Hydro One or partners to help us get the power back on," she said. "It is really all hands on deck."

The storm brought a mix of snow, ice and freezing rain to much of southern Ontario.

More than 100 flights in and out of Toronto's Pearson International Airport were cancelled after the storm dumped about 17 centimetres of snow on the city.

Ontario Provincial Police reported 200 collisions across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area in the 24 hours since Wednesday's storm hit, saying it was slightly more than what the force would see on a typical day.

Environment Canada forecast periods of freezing drizzle and icy conditions for southern Ontario on Thursday, with another round of snowfall later in the day for some eastern parts of the province.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 23, 2023.

Sharif Hassan, The Canadian Press

Note to readers: This is a corrected story. An earlier version had incorrect locations for the communities hit hardest by power outages.