High winds in southern Ontario area leave 2 dead, and more than 100,000 without power

Powerful winds wreaked havoc in southern Ontario's Golden Horseshoe region on Friday, leaving 100,000 people without power and claiming at least two lives.

Toronto fire crews slammed with calls implement 'severe weather protocol,' chief says

Sarah Dobson shared this video of a tree being downed by wind in her Upper Beaches neighbourhood. 0:11

Powerful winds wreaked havoc in southern Ontario's Golden Horseshoe region on Friday, leaving 100,000 people without power and claiming at least two lives.

Just before 7 p.m. in Hamilton, a man in his 50s was found unconscious on a road and "in contact with live wires," a release sent out by Hamilton police said. 

Witnesses told police they saw the man trying to clear the wires from the roadway. 

Shortly after emergency services arrived the man was pronounced dead. 

Halton Regional Police say a man was killed while working to clear trees near Fourth Line and 20 Sideroad in Halton Hills just before 5 p.m. 

Police said a tree fell on two men. One was pronounced dead at the scene while another was rushed to hospital in life-threatening condition. The Ministry of Labour is investigating.

'We've got a long night ahead of us,' fire chief says

Between 4 p.m. and 9 p.m. on Friday evening, Toronto fire crews responded to 685 calls, Toronto fire Chief Matthew Pegg said.

The high volume of calls sparked a "severe weather protocol," said the chief. That means fire services will "significantly reduce" the number of trucks and crews that respond to each incident, he said.

Crews are prioritizing calls, which means — as of 10 p.m. — more than 100 lower-priority calls are being kept in a queue waiting for crews to become available.

"We've got a long night ahead of us, for sure," Pegg said.

Most of the calls coming in are related to the "extraordinary wind" that brought down trees and wires and sent debris flying, he said. Numerous other calls were for people trapped in elevators due to power outages.

Pearson flights back up after grounding

Pearson airport has resumed flights after grounding planes for over an hour because of high winds.  

But the strong winds continue to be a factor, which means travellers may still experience delays, a tweet by the airport says.

A severe thunderstorm warning for Toronto has ended, but the city remains under a wind warning with gusts of 90 to 100 km/h, and thousands are without power as a result.
High winds are being blamed for a falling tree that narrowly missed a school bus in Mississauga, Ont., on Friday. (Peel Regional Police/Twitter)

The weather was also to blame for a tree narrowly missing a school bus in Mississauga on Friday afternoon.

Peel police were called to the area of Sayers and Clarkson roads just before 3:30 p.m. Several students were on board, but no one was injured, police said. 

Several disruptions for TTC and GO

The TTC is experiencing a number of suspensions and route diversions due to debris on tracks and roadways. 

Service on sections of Line 2, between Kipling and Islington stations, and at Victoria Park to Kennedy stations, was suspended due to debris and a fallen tree on the tracks, but service had resumed as of 8 p.m.  

Broken electrical lines attached to a twisting metal sign cause sparks on the top of a TTC streetcar on Friday afternoon. (Submitted by Nick Murphy)

A fallen tree at Exhibition loop, which diverted the 509 Exhibition and 511 Bathurst streetcars, has been cleared.

Signs which fell on wires and closed the main entrance of St. Clair station, and diverted the 512 St. Clair streetcar, have also been cleared and the vehicles have resumed regular routing.  

For all other diversions and delays, check the official TTC Twitter page.

Expect delays if you're taking a GO train or bus. Most lines were affected by the weather on Friday, with traffic at many crossings throughout the region needing to be manually stopped due to power outages or broken train crossing gates, said Metrolinx spokesperson Vanessa Barrasa.

"We still have major general delays. There are a lot of cancellations throughout the entire network," she said. "Mother Nature was really against us."

The UP Express train is back in service after being suspended for a few hours because of high winds causing mechanical problems and debris on the track.

Strong winds snapped part of a tree on St. Joseph Street near Bay Street on Friday afternoon. (Jasmin Seputis/CBC)

Thousands in the dark

Meanwhile, Hydro One says the high winds and thunderstorms are to blame for over 126,000 of its customers being in the dark across the province. 

In Milton, the winds downed 12 hydro poles in the First Line and Britannia area, leaving some 10,000 customers without power.

Nearly 68,000 Toronto Hydro customers are also without power. The utility says it is experiencing "scattered" outages throughout the city, and it says restoration times are expected to be lengthy.

High Park and the roads around it have been closed temporarily, Toronto police tweeted.

A tree near High Park came crashing down in the high winds. The park, and the roads around it, are closed temporarily, police say. (Adrian Cheung/CBC)

Winds will make driving difficult, Environment Canada says

Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist at Environment Canada, said the winds "could make driving rather difficult," especially during the afternoon and on exposed highways.  

"You'll feel it tugging on the wheel," he said.

A thunderstorm warning had  been issued for Toronto on Friday afternoon, but has since ended.

A tree has toppled in Toronto's east side, at Bain Avenue and Broadview Avenue, after high winds hit the city on Friday afternoon. (Kimberly Gale/CBC)

In a tweet, Toronto police explained that construction cranes would be left "in neutral positions" to prepare for the storm, and will be allowed to swing in the wind. 

The areas in the path of the storms also include Hamilton, Mississauga, Burlington, Brampton, Oakville, Vaughan, Newmarket, Uxbridge and Oshawa.

The afternoon saw a high of 25 C, with a humidex of 29 C, but by late evening, temperatures will drop down to about 7 C.