2016 ice storm better for Waterloo Region than storm of 2013

The ice storm that pelted Waterloo Region on Thursday had far less of an impact than a similar storm in 2013 according to local utilities.

At its peak, Thursday's storm put 31,000 hydro customers out of power

Residents of Waterloo Region had to scrape the ice off their windshields Thursday after a winter storm pelted the region with ice rain. (CBC)

The ice storm that pelted Waterloo Region on Thursday had far less of an impact than a similar storm in 2013, according to local utilities. 

At its peak, this year's storm put about 31,000 hydro customers out of power. In comparison, more than 50,000 customers lost power on Sunday, Dec. 22, 2013.

"This particular storm did not have as much tree damage — limbs and trees down — that we had in 2013," said Barbara Shortreed, spokeswoman for Energy+, formerly known as Cambridge North Dumfries Hydro. 

Shortreed said the utility learned some important lessons during the 2013 storm, which were put into practice before the freezing rain began falling Wednesday night. 

"We watch the weather network," she said. "We saw the storm coming, so we pre-plan and set out our crews, our timelines, and who backs-up."

More than 50,000 hydro customers in Waterloo Region lost power during the ice storm of December 2013. (Peter Cowan/CBC)
The aggressive pruning and tree maintenance that happened in early 2014 also reduced the impact of Thursday's storm.

"A lot of those locations where trees were in close proximity had been trimmed back and a lot of the weaker trees had been removed," said Jerry Van Ooteghem, president and CEO of Kitchener Wilmot Hydro. "That does make a significant difference and it did show up this time, especially in the city.

"In the township we have lots of line exposure to forested areas alongside roads and that's always a challenge to trim it back enough to keep clear of the lines. But even out there, there was an improvement over the last time. So, spending the effort on doing the trimming in between definitely pays off in terms of shorter outages."

As of 1 p.m. Monday, utility companies across the region were only reporting a couple dozen power outages. 

At its peak, the storm affected thousands of customers, including: 

  • 7,000 in Cambridge and North Dumfries, according to Energy+
  • 8,000 in Kitchener and Wilmot, according to Kitchener Wilmot Hydro
  • 16,000 in Waterloo, Wellesley and Woolwich, according to Waterloo North Hydro

Icy blast from the past

If you can't remember the ice storm of 2013, or weren't living in the region at the time, here is a photo gallery that was first posted on Dec. 23 of that year.