How cold is it? Lights shut off at power utility

Associated Press

MONTREAL - A power utility shut off the lights on its iconic logo in order to save electricity Wednesday, on a frigid day marked by school closures and increased bunks in homeless shelters.

Vast parts of the country were dealing with the onset of a lengthy cold snap that saw Hydro-Quebec turn off the lights on the logo outside its headquarters, which shines like a landmark on the Montreal skyline.

The utility has had to buy additional power from Ontario and the United States, and is urging customers to cut usage in peak hours to save electricity. It says it's reducing the heating and dimming the lights in its own administrative buildings.

The utility says preliminary estimates indicate it broke a record for consumption Wednesday morning, with 38,900 kilowatts being used.

That's higher than the historic 37,717 megawatts that was reached on Jan. 24, 2011.

In Montreal, there were reports of burst city pipes as temperatures plummeted to -26 C, with the windchill projected at -38 C. Power failures were reported around the province.

In Toronto, the city reported its coldest weather in two years as temperatures dipped to -21 C and additional beds were added in homeless shelters.

People in Atlantic Canada bundled up and huddled against the cold as they negotiated sidewalks that shone with the glare from ice.

Many schools in northwest New Brunswick were closed due to frigid weather, with the temperature dropping to -36 C in Grand Sault.

Environment Canada predicted it could go as low as -41 C in some places.

Nova Scotia and Newfoundland and Labrador were also in the deep freeze.

Temperatures in the West were mostly warmer Wednesday although, in Winnipeg, the thermometer was set to drop to -32 C — with the windchill plunging below -40 C.

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