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Winter’s start ices eastern Canada, US; worst over

December 24, 2013

TORONTO (AP) — Fewer than 200,000 customers in Canada’s largest city are now without power following a weekend ice storm that wreaked havoc through Ontario to the Atlantic coast, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford said Monday.

Ford said utility workers from Michigan, Manitoba and elsewhere are in Ontario will assist in the efforts to restore power.

More 100,000 customers had power restored in the city, but about 190,000 customers are still without power, Ford said. He called the storm one of the worst in Toronto’s history..

Toronto Hydro CEO Anthony Haines said some customers may not get power back until after Christmas on the 26th.

About 80,000 customers in smaller towns and rural areas in Ontario also remained without power, utility companies said. Nearly 45,000 customers remained without power in Quebec.

An icy mix of rain and freezing rain played havoc with the electricity grid across the Maritime provinces on Monday as ice-laden trees fell on power lines, leaving tens of thousands in the dark in southern New Brunswick and northern Nova Scotia. At one point, more than 44,000 residents and businesses were without power in southern New Brunswick.

The freezing rain turned roads and sidewalks into skating rinks Sunday and hit holiday plans at one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Air travelers were still being frustrated by dozens of flight cancellations and delays at Toronto’s Pearson International Airport and at Halifax Stanfield International Airport.

The first full day of winter Sunday also brought ice and high wind in the upper U.S. Midwest and northeastern New England states and flooding in the South.

More than 390,000 homes and businesses were without power Monday in Michigan, upstate New York and across the northern New England region to Maine, down from Sunday’s peak of more than half a million. Most were in Michigan, whose largest utilities said it will be days before power is restored because of the difficulty of working around broken lines.

At least 11 deaths in the U.S. were blamed on the storm, including five people killed in flooding in Kentucky and a woman who died after a tornado with winds of 130 mph (209 kph) struck in Arkansas. Another woman died in Arkansas when she lost control of her vehicle on an icy patch of an interstate. A Vermont man died from carbon monoxide poisoning caused by a generator that was running after the storm knocked out power at his house, state police said. Five people were killed in eastern Canada in highway crashes blamed on severe weather conditions.

In the U.S., more than 4,000 flights were behind schedule, the majority of those in New York, Washington, Chicago, Denver, Dallas and Houston.

And more than 275 flights were canceled, mostly in Chicago, Denver, Houston and Dallas, aviation data company FlightAware said. The number is in line with a typical travel day and much improved from Sunday’s 700 cancellations. There are usually more than 30,000 daily flights in the United States.

Delta Air Lines said a taxiway that may have frozen over was suspected in an accident at Detroit Metropolitan Airport: An Atlanta-bound jetliner slid onto the grass, but no one was hurt.

The winter weather was far from nationwide, though. Record high temperatures in the 60s and 70s Fahrenheit (upper teens and low 20s Celsius) were reached in some Mid-Atlantic U.S. states this weekend, but forecasts called for drops back to the mid-30s F (low single digits C).


Associated Press writers Mary Esch in Albany, New York, Bruce Shipkowski in Trenton, New Jersey, Ken Miller in Oklahoma City, David Goodman in Detroit, Rick Callahan in Indianapolis and Steve Karnowski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

Update hourly