Tens of thousands of Hydro-Québec customers lost power in southern Quebec Thursday afternoon as severe thunderstorms swept through certain regions with heavy rain, hail, strong winds and lightning.
Before the storm hit, Environment Canada had warned that a “very dangerous thunderstorm” capable of producing destructive wind gusts, hail and heavy rain was on the way.
“This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation,” the warning said.
“Extremely large hail can smash windows, destroy property and vehicles and cause life-threatening injury. Widespread and extremely strong wind gusts can destroy buildings with tornado-like damage, flatten large stands of trees and blow vehicles off the road.”
Other areas warning of a severe thunderstorm include Drummondville, Gatineau, Lachute, Lanaudière, Mauricie, Mont-Laurier and Quebec City.
By around 5 pm, some 34,000 Hydro-Québec customers were without power.
More than 13,000 of those customers were in the Laurentians, while some 8,000 were in Montreal and another 7,000 were on the city’s South Shore.
Montreal’s transit authority, the STM, said service on the Blue line of the Metro was interrupted termporarily between Snowdon and Saint-Michel stations due to water infiltration.
Montreal spokesperson Philippe Sabourin said some streets remained closed after the storm due to flooding, while others were reopened.
The city’s east end was largely spared heavy damage, but in other parts of the city there were more than 600 calls to the city’s 311 service about flooding since 5 pm, he said.
About a dozen basements were reported flooded all over the island, he said, and many traffic lights were out, but nobody was hurt.
There was also potential for tornados in western Quebec and parts of the Laurentians and Lanaudière, Environment Canada announced.
Environment Canada put several areas under tornado watch, including both the Laurentians and Lanaudière regions — Mont-Tremblant, Lachute and Saint-Jérôme — and parts of western Quebec, around Pontiac and Gatineau.
If Environment Canada believes a tornado is likely to occur (or is occurring), it will upgrade to a tornado warning. Currently, it is only a tornado watch, which means a tornado is a possibility.
Sherbrooke & Du Fort. Montreal. Video by my daughter Sophie. Manhole fountains in severe storm. pic.twitter.com/pZtC9g92DT
Thunderstorms bring the threat of lightning which kills and injures Canadians every year, Environment Canada says, and people are advised to seek shelter when they hear thunder.
The weather comes just weeks after a major storm battered parts of the province, causing wide-spread damage and leaving hundreds of thousands without power, especially in the Ottawa area.