Hamilton ice storm leaves thousands in the cold Monday morning

Thousands of Hamilton residents spent the night in the dark, after a wild winter ice storm toppled tree branches and downed power lines across the city.

'Crews are currently working as quickly as possible' to restore service: Horizon Utilities

Cars drive along York Boulevard on Sunday morning during this weekend's ice storm. (Cory Ruf/CBC)


  • All Hamilton-Wentworth District School Board buildings, including daycare facilities, closed Monday
  • About 3,000 Hamilton households, businesses without power Monday morning
  • 'Widespread power outages' to last up to 72 hours in some areas, Horizon says
  • 'Our biggest concern right now is the safety of our residents,' Mayor Bratina says in statement
  • Warming Centres: Dundas Lions Memorial Community, Stoney Creek Rec, Huntington Park Rec Centre

Community warming centres

The city has opened a series of community centres to residents who have lost power. City staff will be present at these locations:

  • North Wentworth Arena — 27 Hwy. 5, Flamborough
  • Dundas Lions Memorial Community Centre — 10 Market St. S, Dundas (HSR bus route #5 West)
  • Stoney Creek Recreation Centre — 45 King St. W, Stoney Creek (HSR bus route #5 East)
  • Huntington Park Recreation Centre — 87 Brentwood Dr., Hamilton (HSR bus route #22)

For more information, go to the city's winter storm information page

Thousands of Hamilton residents spent the night in the dark, after a wild winter ice storm toppled tree branches and downed power lines across the city. 

Sunday afternoon, Horizon Utilities announced that "widespread power outages" in Hamilton could last up to 72 hours, into Christmas Day. 

"The power outages are the result of ice build-up that is bringing down trees and power lines," the company said in a 2:30 p.m. written statement. "Horizon crews are currently working as quickly as possible to restore power to approximately customers without power in Hamilton and St. Catharines." 

About 3,000 Horizon Utilities customers are without power Monday morning as are about 2,000 Hydro One customers, which serves some of the city's rural and suburban areas. 

Because of tree branches falling on hydro infrastructure, new outages popped up on Sunday afternoon as crews worked to fix existing ones, said company spokesperson Marylena Stea. 

She said she wasn't able to give a firm estimate on when normal service would resume. 

Our biggest concern right now is the safety of our residents as it relates to power outages, fallen wires and tree limbs and driving conditions.—Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina

"We are hoping to have the bulk of people restored today," Stea said. "There will be people without who will go without power overnight. As for how many, at this point it’s tough to say."

Hamilton Mayor Bob Bratina sent out a statement on Sunday evening in the wake of the ice storm.

"An army of city, hydro, police, fire and emergency workers are on duty responding to the needs of our people and dealing with dangerous situations such as fallen wires, tree limbs, icy roads, etc.," he said. 

"Every available staff person has been assigned to required duties or is on standby.​..Our biggest concern right now is the safety of our residents as it relates to power outages, fallen wires and tree limbs and driving conditions."

In response to the power outages, the city has opened four community warming centres for people who have lost electricity.

Busy night for downtown hotels

With their homes without power, many Hamiltonians were forced to decide on how to adapt to the circumstances.

Some chose to book a hotel room in the city’s downtown — which, for much of the day, experienced relatively few and relatively short lapses in hydro service.

“We’ve actually had tons of calls for people in the city, especially from the Hamilton Mountain, where a lot of the outages have taken place,” said Carla Visocchi, a front agent at the Crowne Plaza Hotel.

The late-weekend rush, she added, is out of the ordinary.

“It’s weird for a Sunday night for it to be quiet, and then all the sudden get really busy,” Visocchi said.

Staybridge Suites, at Caroline South and George streets, saw a “high, high amount” of last-minute bookings from residents of other parts of the city, a hotel representative told CBC Hamilton. 

Many more Hamiltonians hunkered down in their electricity-less homes, taking measures to stay warm overnight, or left home to stay with friends or relatives.

I’m very concerned about my residents, especially those who may not have the money to go out to a restaurant to get warm.—Coun. Judi Partridge, Ward 15

Councillor Judi Partridge, whose ward encompasses both rural and suburban parts of Waterdown and Flamborough, said some of her constituents are firing up wood stoves or gas fireplaces in efforts to keep their dwellings warms.

However, she expressed concerns about constituents — particularly seniors, children and mothers with babies — who don't have the wherewithal to purchase needed supplies or to seek shelter elsewhere.  

“I’m very concerned about my residents, especially those who may not have the money to go out to a restaurant to get warm. That’s something that I’ve certainly raised a red flag about over the last hours.”

She said she’s working with other city officials to open up a community centre in Waterdown to take in individuals who have lost electricity, and to organize transportation to and from the facility.

Partridge reminded Hamilton residents to check on their family members, friends and neighbours who have lost power, to make sure they are doing OK. 

Fallen trees, wires

Realtor Mike McNeil shot this photograph of a fallen tree on top of a car on Tivoli Drive, in the area of Scenic Drive and Mohawk Road, on Hamilton's West Mountain. (Supplied)

Saturday night's ice storm, which continued into Sunday, brought fallen tree branches and downed power lines across the city.

“We’re getting a lot of hydro wires down and trees down,” said acting Staff Sgt. Frank Miscione of the Hamilton Police Service. “Most of the trees down and hydro wires down are on the Mountain.”

Partridge, who represents Ward 15, said the storm hit north Flamborough and Carlisle, as well as other rural regions, hard. 

The power outages and slippery conditions are creating headaches for Hamilton motorists, especially those on the Mountain and in the city's rural regions, said Dave LeClair, another acting staff sergeant with the Hamilton police.“We were out walking the area just to see how bad it is,” she told CBC Hamilton on Sunday morning. “It’s unbelievable. Every few seconds, all you hear is a ‘pop’ and a ‘crack,’ and a few trees come down.”

Drivers should treat intersections with non-functioning traffic lights as four-way stops, he said. 

"We’ve already had two incidents where people are driving … at 50 or 60 [km/h] through an intersection," leading to "T-bone" collisions, he said. 

Environment Canada cancelled its freezing rain warning for Hamilton at 1:17 p.m. However, it said that some freezing drizzle is still in the forecast for the rest of the day. 

Don't approach downed power lines: Horizon

In the lead-up to the storm on Saturday, Horizon Utilities spokesperson Larry Roberts warned Hamilton residents not to approach or touch downed utility lines.  

If you see one, back away from it and report it to the company’s 24-hour hotline at 905-522-6611, he said. 

If a power line falls on a roadway, sidewalk or house, Roberts added, “it may be necessary to call 9-1-1.”

Horizon Utilities has provided a number of safety tips related to power outages during the possible ice storm:

  • Keep an emergency kit with bottled water, flashlight and batteries, candles, holders and matches, battery-powered radio and alarm clock.
  • Leave one light on so you know when the power has been restored.
  • Do not open the refrigerator or freezer door while the power is off. Most foods will stay frozen for at least 12 hours, refrigerated for 16 hours.
  • Never use a barbecue indoors. Carbon monoxide emissions can cause asphyxiation.
  • Plug in only the most essential appliances. If you wait 10 to 15 minutes before reconnecting, the system has time to stabilize.
  • Do not leave candles burning unattended.


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