Power outages in London as ice storm downs trees, cancels flights

Sunday is expected to bring a 'significant' amount of rainfall which could turn to ice.

Environment Canada is warning of 'historic ice storm' for this April weekend

A tree took out a power line when it snapped in high winds north of London on Nissouri Rd. (Amanda Margison/ CBC News)

A prediction by Environment Canada that this could be a historic ice storm is coming true, with power outages being reported, dangerous driving conditions, fallen trees and cancelled flights.

It's not exactly the weather most expected for a weekend in mid-April.

The departure and arrival board at London International Airport lit up red Saturday with all flights into and out of the city cancelled.

Numerous power outages have been reported in the region.

Rain started Saturday morning then changed into freezing rain, with ice pellets and high wind making driving difficult. Up to 25 millimetres of rain is expected by Sunday morning. And things could get even worse that day.

"As the low approaches tonight (Saturday), freezing rain will likely become widespread again and persist into Sunday before changing to rain," reports Environment Canada. "Significant rain may fall Sunday afternoon into Sunday night creating localized flooding."

Power outages began Saturday around noon as rain turned to ice along power lines. In some areas, the wind knocked down trees and power lines prompting police to issue warnings to keep a distance.
An old tree takes a beating on Talbot St. Saturday (Amanda Margison/ CBC News)

The freezing rain warning covers: 

  • London - Parkhill - Eastern Middlesex County
  • Strathroy - Komoka - Western Middlesex County

The Upper Thames River Conservation Authority (UTRCA) issued a flood watch bulletin Friday.

"At this time, water levels are not expected to be as high as the recent event in February of this year," said UTRCA communications manager Teresa Hollingsworth in a statement.

Colliding weather

Environment Canada blames the wet weather in Southern Ontario on a slow moving system from the Gulf of Mexico that is colliding with Arctic winds.

"It's not common, but I wouldn't say it's rare. It's the type of storm we should expect during the transition period in the spring," said Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist Etienne Gregorie told CBC News of Friday.

"These storms become very intense. There's this clash of all this warm air that's sitting along the Atlantic and in the Southern U.S., and then running into still cool, cold weather here, they spool up and become quite major."

Don't expect sun

While the rain is expected to taper off Monday, Environment Canada isn't forecasting any warm weather for the rest of the week.

"There is no sign of a long period of sunshine and 18 degrees, we just don't see the sun on the short term horizon," said Gregorie.