A “potentially historic” ice storm is descending on Southwestern Ontario, Canada’s national weather watchdog says – already downing trees, cancelling flights and knocking out power in the London-area, The London Free Press reports.
Environment Canada has issued sweeping freezing rain warnings for the whole of Southwestern Ontario Saturday morning – from Windsor, Chatham-Kent and Sarnia to Huron-Perth and Oxford counties.
By Sunday, parts of the region could be grappling with up to 25 millimetres of frozen ice accumulation. Coupled with wind gusts up to 80 kilometres per hour, Environment Canada said.
At the London International Airport, all flights into and out of the hub were cancelled Saturday. More could be cancelled Sunday.
Across the Southwestern Ontario region, OPP officers were responding to at least 50 crashes Saturday, including several on Highway 401.
In nearby Strathroy, a fallen tree caused some outages Saturday afternoon, the utility said. Crews were on scene trying to restore power to customers after five poles were affected by the nasty blast of rain and wind.
London Hydro was reporting some outages in Lambeth along Longwoods Road Saturday afternoon. Hydro One had more than 800 customers without power near Watford and nearly 900 more without electricity west of Woodstock as of 2 p.m. Saturday.
It’s going to get worse, Environment Canada said.
A wet low pressure system will move into the region from the central states. As the front approaches, northwest winds will pump cold Arctic air into the region, pushing the mercury below zero Saturday morning.
Patchy rain will blanket much of Southwestern Ontario Saturday morning before changing to freezing rain that will last into the evening before tapering off, Environment Canada said in a statement.
The agency is calling for another round of widespread frozen drizzle Sunday morning before it changes to rain in the afternoon. Localized flooding from the downpour is also possible, the national weather agency said in a statement Saturday morning.
The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority is under a flood watch as rainfall amounts Saturday and Sunday alone could reach 60 to 90 millimetres.
With the ground already saturated and unable to absorb the extra rainfall, water levels will rise through the weekend, the conservation authority said. They won’t reach the 40-year flood levels the region saw in February however.
Environment Canada is warning the public to stay off the roads, as driving conditions are likely to become treacherous with the blast of wintery weather.
Public Safety Canada is encouraging people to make an emergency plan and get an emergency kit with drinking water, food, a first-aid kit and a flashlight in the event of a lengthy power outage.
Even with the terrible weather – the flood watches, freezing rain warnings and power outages – some people from looking ahead to summer.
Hundreds came out for the Home and Outdoor Show at the Western Fair District Saturday, the second day of its three-day run.
With 222 exhibitors showing off everything from backyard landscaping to home renovations, it might be the only place in Southwestern Ontario where there’s any semblance of spring at all.
“Indoors, we have those thoughts of spring,” said show manager Rob Lumsden. “When the sun decides to finally show up you can go ahead and get working out your outdoor space.”