The death toll from strong thunderstorms in Canada’s two most populous provinces has risen to at least nine. The toll increased by one after Sunday, a woman died when the boat she was traveling on capsized on the Ottawa River near Masson-Angers, Quebec province.
It remains unclear how many Canadians died in the storm. Ontario police reported seven deaths Saturday. The deaths were caused by fallen trees in parts of the province of Quebec.
A thunderstorm that hit Canada measured winds of up to 132 kilometers per hour. According to Canadian Environment and Climate Change meteorologist Gerald Cheng, it was the first time a thunderstorm was severe enough to hit the country.
The disaster has sparked an emergency alert from the Canadian Meteorological and Environmental Agency, with announcements widely broadcast on television, radio and mobile phones.
Cheng said the storm appeared to be part of a derecho. It is a term to describe a windstorm that moves in a straight line, with a long duration. Derecho has been associated with a group of fast-moving severe thunderstorms known as mesoscale convective systems.
The storm, which lasted more than two hours on Saturday afternoon also carried the force of a tornado. The thunderstorms left a trail of destruction in several parts of Ontario and Quebec. A gust of wind managed to cut trees, uproot power lines and knock down many metal transmission towers, the utility company said.
Power companies on Sunday also scrambled to restore transmission lines. Hydro One, for example, Ontario’s largest electricity distribution company, admitted that it had suffered significant damage that day. And it’s causing hundreds of thousands of households to lose access to electricity.
An eighth person to die, then, was announced on Sunday. The victim, who hails from Ontario, reportedly died from a fallen tree branch after the storm hit the province.
A hurricane that hit Canada, occurred during the public holiday weekend, Victoria Day. Some of the victims who died were reported to have been camping, golfing or taking walks enjoying the holiday, police said.
One person also died in a camping trailer near Pinehurst in the Waterloo County. Two others suffered minor injuries in the incident, after a tree fell on a trailer in the Grand River Conservation Authority park area on Saturday afternoon.