A line of fast-moving severe thunderstorms (derecho) swept over southern Ontario and Quebec – the most populated part of Canada – on May 21, 2022, leaving roughy 1 000 km (620 miles) of damage in its wake and at least 9 people dead. It developed near Sarnia, Ontario late Saturday morning and tracked northeast over southern Ontario toward Ottawa in the afternoon.
The storm produced winds in excess of 120 km/h (74 mph), damaged many homes and businesses, overturned cars, and downed trees and powerlines.
As a result, at least 9 people have been killed, several were injured and more than 950 000 customers were left without power.
Of the 9 reported fatalities, 8 were reported in Ontario due to falling trees and 1 in Ontario after a boat capsized on the Ottawa River.1
The damage extends roughly 1 000 km (620 miles) from the Michigan border all the way to Quebec City, Quebec, the most populated part of the country, The Weather Network’s chief meteorologist, Chris Scott, said.2
Pearson International Airport recorded a wind gust of 120 km/h (74 mph), breaking its previous monthly record of 119 km/h (73 mph) set on May 4, 2018. This is also its 5th strongest wind gust on record.
Ottawa International Airport also recorded a wind gust of 120 km/h – its 2nd strongest May wind gust on record and the 4th highest of all time.
Kitchener/Waterloo Airport recorded a 132 km/h (82 mph) gust that could be one of their strongest on record, according to Tyler Hamilton, a meteorologist at The Weather Network.
Peak wind gusts as reported by Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) include 144 km/h (89 mph) at Lake Memphremagog, 128 km/h in Shawinigan (79 mph), 100 km/h (62 mph) at Quebec City airport and 96 km/h (59 mph) in Trois-Rivières.
A state of emergency was declared in Uxbridge, Ontario, and in Clarence Rockland, east of Ottawa, after numerous buildings were damaged.
More than 400 000 customers were left without power in Ontario (~170 000 in Otawa) and 550 000 in Quebec (from Gatineau to Quebec City).
Ontario utility Hydro One said the storm toppled large electrical transmission towers in the Ottawa area, and more than 600 hydro poles across the province.
“The distinction with this storm is the severity of damage we’re seeing,” Hydro One spokeswoman, Tiziana Baccega Rosa, said. “Steel transmission structures aren’t supposed to come down … it’s very very extreme damage.”
More than 270 000 customers in Ontario and 350 000 in Quebec were still without power as of Sunday afternoon, May 22. As of early Monday, 226 000 customers were still without power in Ontario and 166 000 in Quebec
Officials said it will take several days for the power to be fully restored.
Ottawa Fire Services said that the city’s fire, police and paramedics fielded about 3 000 911 calls between 04:00 Saturday and midnight – with 2 000 of them coming in the storm’s first three hours.
“This one hit us hard, it hit us fast… I was out at the airport earlier and I saw telephone posts knocked down, large trees uprooted, and several hydro lines being split in half. It was incredible. The sheer area that was affected is like nothing I’ve seen in my memory,” the City of Ottawa’s head of emergency services, Kim Ayotte, said.
1 Ontario, Quebec storm leaves at least nine dead, hundreds of thousands without power – The Globe and Mail – May 23, 2022
2 Derecho leaves roughly 1,000 km of damage, fatalities in its wake – The Weather Network – May 22, 2022
3 Tens of thousands still without power after deadly storm in Ontario and Quebec – CBC – May 22, 2022
Featured image credit: The Weather Channel (stillshot)
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