An inflatable Santa Claus decoration is seen behind frozen branches following an ice storm in Toronto, December 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Canadian holiday merrymakers, wanting to spend the holidays with loved-ones, have been stuck in the airports after a severe ice winter storm. The massive weather turmoil has snapped power lines leaving more than 430,000 households in Ontario and Quebec without electricity.
Flights have either been delayed or cancelled at the airports of Toronto, Ottawa, Montreal, Fredericton, Saint John, Halifax and St. John's and going to the U.S. as far as Chicago.
"We might have to wait there until later tomorrow," Air Canada Flier Adriana Nauta said. "We're at the airline's mercy."
A couple takes a "selfie" following an ice storm in Toronto, December 22, 2013. REUTERS/Mark Blinch
Robert Palmer, WestJet spokesman, said the icy, slippery conditions of airports are making landing and take-off very risky.
"People should check their flights and the plane you're flying on might have touched one of those cities," Palmer added.
"The timing is horrible for people trying to get home for Christmas and everybody is doing everything they can so people get home safely," he noted.
More than 250,000 Toronto Hydro customers in Canada's biggest city currently have no access to power. This may take as long as 72 hours to restore the service, according to the utility firm in its Web site.
"It's not just a matter of going in and restoring the power lines," Anthony Haines, Toronto Hydro Chief Executive Officer, said.
"Now we're going to be replacing poles, replacing transformers at the top of some of these poles, so it's going to be a major event that is going to last days for us to be able to get the power back up," he added.
Top priority for power restoration are the hospitals. According to Haines, Toronto's East General and Sunnybrook hospitals were already operating using emergency generators, as well as the city's water-pumping system.
A layer of ice coats the leaves of a Japanese maple tree after an ice storm in Toronto December 22, 2013. REUTERS/Chris Helgren
"I want to assure everyone living in these areas that all available resources are working to keep you and your families safe and to restore power as quickly as possible," Kathleen Wynne, Ontario Premier, said Sunday afternoon.
The Toronto Transit Commission said in a Twitter message that it has suspended streetcar services in the city due to the icy power lines.
Tree branches are cased in ice following an ice storm in Toronto December 22, 2013. REUTERS/Bob Strong
"This is truly one of the worst ice storms we've seen here in Ontario," Haines said at a press briefing.
The Toronto area may still receive as much as 40 kilometers (25 miles) of ice and snow an hour even after the storm has left, Environment Canada said. Montreal may have as much as 30 centimeters (12 inches) of snow and ice pellets.