Travel chaos and power outages as ice storm grips Ontario, Quebec and Maritimes

Associated Press

TORONTO - Southern Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes are now fully in the grip of a massive weather system that`s coating the landscape in ice.

The storm has knocked out the electricity to thousands homes and businesses and is creating massive headaches for travellers at one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Salting and sanding crews worked through the night in an uphill battle against a dangerous mix of snow, ice pellets and freezing rain that stretches from Niagara Falls, Ont., to the Atlantic Coast.

The weather conditions are suspected to have been a factor in three fatal highway accidents in Quebec yesterday, and another in Ontario.

Provincial police are strongly advising people not to drive unless it`s absolutely necessary.

Outages affecting more than 70,000 hydro customers were reported in Ontario, including 50,000 in the Greater Toronto Area, as ice-coated tree branches snapped, pulling down power lines.

Outages affecting nearly four-thousand customers were reported in Quebec overnight.

The weather conditions have also resulted in scores of flight cancellations and delays at airports in Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Fredericton, Saint John, Halifax and St. John`s.

Passengers are being advised to check their flights before heading to the airport.

As the storm continues its eastward march Environment Canada meteorologist Weiqing Zhang says it will likely be sometime this afternoon before it leaves central Canada and sometime this evening before freezing rain stops falling on the Maritimes.

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