After crossing Magog and passing near Sherbrooke, a storm headed towards Beauce on Sunday afternoon. “It’s all escalating. There is a multitude of storms to watch right now in Montérégie and Estrie,” said Jean-Philippe Bégin, a meteorologist at Environment Canada, at the end of the day.
Severe thunderstorms and tornado watches were announced by Environment Canada earlier in the day after strong winds caused extensive damage in several regions of Quebec the day before and left hundreds of thousands of people without power. “It’s for all the regions south of the St. Lawrence River,” says Mr. Bégin. Montérégie, Estrie, the region of the South Shore of Quebec, and towards the Bas Saint-Laurent.
A cold front, which was located Sunday morning near Georgian Bay in Ontario and which is now in the Charlevoix region, is the cause of the upheavals. “We will have much cooler weather in the coming days, with nights at almost 5 degrees in Estrie, underlines Mr. Bégin. It gives an idea of the change in an air mass that is taking place. »
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Estrie, Beauce, and Montmagny-L’Islet were also affected by tornado watches from mid-afternoon. This does not mean that a tornado will occur, explains Mr. Bégin. “It means: be vigilant and on the lookout for any warnings that may be issued. »
The regions of Amqui and the Matapédia Valley, Kamouraska-Rivière-du-Loup-Trois-Pistoles, Montmagny-L’Islet, Rimouski and Témiscouata, in particular, were affected by a watch of severe thunderstorms.
In the end, the day was calmer than expected, possibly due to cooler temperatures, confirmed Alain Roberge, meteorologist for Environment Canada, Sunday evening.
A line of thunderstorms 300 kilometers long
On Saturday, a worrying storm front 300 kilometers long extended from northwestern Ontario to the Laurentides Wildlife Reserve, carrying with it gusts ranging from 80 kilometers per hour to 150 kilometers per hour. Hail, sometimes the size of a golf ball, also fell in places.
The following day, the extensive damage caused by the violent winds (tree-strewn roads, collapsed electric poles, gutted house roofs) was still clearly visible in several regions of the province.
In Val-Morin, in the Laurentians, where nearly one out of two Hydro-Quebec customers was without electricity on Sunday morning, uprooted trees were visible almost at every street corner. This region was the most affected in terms of power outages according to the state company’s report on Sunday morning.
“It lasted 30-40 minutes, very strong wind with rain. From my window, I saw a tree fall, then two, it was a domino,” says Michael Manouk, a resident of rue Morin whose car was flattened by spruce.
Around the corner, Michael Viau welcomes residents with coffee in front of his grocery store, Marché Val-Morin. The man spent the whole night supplying his fridges with ice, the time to find generators. “I have no idea when the power will come back, I hope it won’t be too long,” he wonders when the municipality asks its residents connected to the aqueduct network to reduce their consumption due to power outages.
A little further, on Chemin de la Rivière, trees fell on the two cars, the shed, and the house of Richard Duquette. “It happened very quickly. In ten seconds, one after the other, he calls from the edge of his window.
Imprisoned in his home by the trunk of a conifer blocking his door, the man says he had the help of a good Samaritan who came to see the log. Tenant of his house for five years, this is the first time he has witnessed such a storm.
A sea of branches
In Val-David, Stéphane Jeannerot is helped by two friends to see the sea of branches that got along on his land on Sunday morning. “I was on the street next door, the wind was blowing through the trees like the pictures you see on TV [of hurricanes in Florida],” he said.
Just leaning against the roof of his pretty house, a huge pine tree worries his spouse, Elisabeth Gibeau, on the phone with the insurance. “We are waiting to find out what we do with it,” she sighs.
A long line of cars lined up in front of Dépanneur Voisin Jocelyn Villemaire inc, the only gas station to be powered by a generator in Val-David on Sunday morning.
Lifted at the end of the evening, the severe thunderstorm warning sent by Environment Canada on Saturday extended from Haute-Gatineau, through Greater Montreal, to the Laurentides wildlife reserve.
At the height of the storm, Saturday evening, some 550,000 Hydro-Quebec customers were deprived of electricity.
NUMBER OF CUSTOMERS WITHOUT ELECTRICITY
- Laurentians: 112,152 out of 362,065
- Lanaudière: 69,854 out of 263,240
- Outaouais: 60,608 out of 224,649
- Capitale-Nationale: 3,742 out of 434,813
- Mauricie: 4,278 out of 168,051
- All of Quebec: 251,918 out of 4,492,115
According to the Hydro-Québec report of 10:31 p.m.
“Yesterday’s weather events caused significant damage on the ground, which led to outages in several regions of Quebec,” Hydro-Quebec said on Sunday morning, adding that it had deployed 400 teams on the ground to restore the situation.
The Minister of Energy and Natural Resources, Jonatan Julien, then clarified on Twitter that “several equipment failures [sic]” made the task of reconnecting all Hydro-Québec customers “more difficult”.
Six dead in Ontario, one in Quebec
In Ontario, where the storm began, six deaths and several injuries were reported due to strong winds from a line of destructive gusty thunderstorms.
In Quebec, Gatineau police say a 51-year-old woman died when the boat she was in capsized in the Ottawa River near Masson-Angers during Saturday’s storm.
Strong winds were recorded in several places, in particular on Lake Memphremagog with gusts of up to 151 km/h, in Trois-Rivières with peaks at 96 km/h, and in Gatineau up to 90 km/h, late Saturday afternoon. In Ontario, peaks of 132 km/h were recorded in the Waterloo region.