Hydro-Québec crews worked feverishly throughout the day and into the evening Thursday to restore power to the tens of thousands who lost electricity from a powerful freezing rain storm.

Freezing rain lashed western and central Quebec, the weight of the ice bringing down tree branches onto power lines.

At the peak of the outages, early Thursday morning, more than 250,000 clients were without electricity. By 4 p.m. ET, about half that number had their power back.

By 10 p.m. ET, the utility was reporting that 66,400 customers were still without power, more than 66,000 of them in the Laurentians and the Lanaudière region.

The town of Hudson, 60 kilometres west of Montreal, opened an emergency shelter for 1,200 customers that were still without power late Thursday afternoon.

By 6 p.m., however, all but a handful of customers in that area had their power restored.

On Hudson's website, officials for the town of 5,000 said it had activated emergency measures. The Stephen F. Shaar Community Centre on Main Street was opened to anyone in need of shelter.

Hydro-Québec said most clients should have their power back by Thursday night, although some may have to wait until as late as Saturday.


​Serge Abergel, a spokesperson for the public utility, said today's milder temperatures meant the freezing rain was no longer sticking to trees or taking down power lines, as was the case overnight.

250,000 without power across Quebec2:55

School closures

Power outages and poor road conditions forced many Quebec schools to close Thursday. Many schools in the Lester B. Pearson and Sir Wilfred Laurier school boards were closed for the day. 


A tree branch fell on Dézéry Street in Montreal's Hochela-Maisonneuve neighbourhood overnight Wednesday. (Alain Beland/Radio-Canada)

Schools in the Central Quebec School Board were also closed, among others in the region.

Flooding in Montreal


A work crew tries to free a drain of snow and ice in Montreal's Rosemont neighbourhood. (Radio-Canada)

Environment Canada reported that 31 millimetres of precipitation fell on Montreal Wednesday. 

The heavy rain led to flooding on Parc Avenue between Villeneuve Street and Mont-Royal Avenue. 

Underpasses in some parts of Montreal were temporarily closed due to water accumulation. 

Rising temperatures Thursday melted some of the ice buildup, but conditions remained slippery on roads and sidewalks.

Scenes of icy beauty

The freezing rain did, however, produce some striking scenes, beyond the slushy streets, broken branches and flooding.

Radio-Canada journalists and videographers captured beautiful images of Quebec City. Check out the photo gallery below.