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Hydro Ottawa preparing for 'potential ice storm conditions' in Ottawa

Hydro Ottawa is on standby for possible power outages as Environment Canada is calling for significant freezing rain and ice pellets in Ottawa and the region.

A freezing rain warning has been issued for much of eastern Ontario and west Quebec calling for "potential ice storm conditions," which include a prolonged period of freezing rain that could lead to ice buildup of 10 to 15 millimetres, Environment Canada said.

The precipitation is expected to start early Wednesday morning and continue for much of the day before temperatures rise above the freezing mark.

Some areas may see several hours of freezing rain, which could lead to power outages and tree damage.

"One potential complication is how much of the precipitation falls in the form of ice pellets versus freezing rain," Environment Canada said. "If most of the precipitation falls in the form of freezing rain, this has the potential to be a significant ice storm for the region."

The weather agency is warning that surfaces will become icy and slippery, and ice buildup may cause tree branches to break.

Hydro Ottawa says its crews are preparing for the storm, which could lead to power outages.

"Similar to the December winter storm, our systems operators are monitoring the weather patterns to ensure integrity and security of Ottawa’s distribution system; field operators are prepared for outage restorations; and we’ve secured a team of on-call staff, contractors and specialists, such as arborists that are available to respond during and after hours should a situation arise," a Hydro Ottawa spokesperson said in a statement to CTV News. 

Joseph Muglia, director of systems operations with Hydro Ottawa, told Newstalk 580 CFRA's Ottawa Now with Kristy Cameron that the utility is in major preparedness mode.

"We've spent most of the day preparing for the worst-case conditions, although we're feeling pretty confident right now that we're not going to run into too many problems," he said. "At this point, we've got all of our personnel ready to go; we're just waiting on the weather now."

Forecasts show the freezing rain isn't expected to start early Wednesday, so crew rosters have been set up to be ready for the morning hours.

"We've also got our on-call staff on standby. We wouldn't typically make those ahead-of-time preparations, but in this case we have good intel to tell us something is coming, so we've got those folks ready to go."

Muglia says the mix of freezing rain turning to ice pellets could lead to ice buildup on infrastructure like power lines.

"With any ice buildup, the overhead conductors are what concerns us the most," he said. "But I would not say there's any area of more concern in the city than others."


The latest forecast from Environment Canada calls for a mainly cloudy night with a chance of ice pellets before morning and risk of freezing rain. The low is -4 C.

On Wednesday, the high will be 0 C with a wind chill of -12 in the morning. The ice pellets and freezing rain are expected to change to rain in the late afternoon or early evening. Those showers will continue into Wednesday night.

Thursday will be significantly warmer: cloudy with a 40 per cent chance of showers and 11 C.

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