THUNDER BAY – The first winter storm of the season is under our collective experiences. Power to homes and businesses in the city and out across the region had crews working long hours in less than ideal conditions. The Rotary Christmas Parade went off as planned Saturday, with smiles and enjoyment being the focus even though temperatures and wind made it tougher. Parade commentator Ron Kanutski commented “The Snow must Go On”… as he shared hosting duties with Kateri Skaarup.
The weather had Thunder Bay Hydro crews battling high winds, extremely low visibility and icy roads while they worked through the night to restore customers. After a series of outages in the south of the city closer to the lake during the day Friday, the evening brought a concentration of outages in the north areas of the city. Weather related equipment failures and trees on lines resulted in multiple incidents on longer rural powerlines and hampered full restoration until later Saturday night. Additionally some customers had damage to private lines and needed to bring in private contractors to restore their power.
By late Friday evening, local third party contractors were brought in to assist. It is estimated that the outages impacted over 4,000 Thunder Bay Hydro Customers through the course of the weekend with about 500 customers experiencing extended outages through Saturday.
Across the region the storm closed highways and made travel difficult. The OPP closed the Trans-Canada Highway on Friday stranding travellers in Thunder Bay and in Ignace. Ironically in Dryden they did not receive any snow.
Several accidents on the highways caused travel delays and highway closures through the weekend.
A number of people in Thunder Bay have expressed concerns with the manner that the City Crews worked to clear roads and sidewalks. It is likely that City Councillors and the Mayor will get both phone calls and emails regarding those concerns. Many roads were not cleared fully through Friday night making driving difficult.
Thunder Bay Police were kept busy handling almost 100 motor vehicle accidents.