After the storm: Kingston and area recover from holiday blizzard 2022

A large tree, uprooted from the ground due to the high winds on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, crashed into the roof of a house on Gore Street near Wellington Street, taking with it a number of phone and power lines. Photo by Cody Stafford-Arenburg/Kingstonist.

Update (Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022):
In response to inquiries from Kingstonist regarding the impacts of the blizzard on City of Kingston services, Utilities Kingston services, Kingston Transit Services, and the combined clean-up efforts of all three organizations, the City of Kingston offered the following statement.

“The Significant Weather Event posed many challenges to the City staff who provide essential services to the community, and we are proud of how they rose to the occasion. Teams in Public Works, Transit, Transportation, and more worked tirelessly to ensure that main roads were kept clear and the community informed during the peak of this extraordinary winter storm.  Kingston Transit resumed full service as scheduled on Dec. 26. Although the weather event has now ended, snow and ice clean-up efforts around Kingston continue. Help crews do their best work by following the Winter Parking Ban, reporting traffic sign and signal issues directly by phone or online reporting form at CityofKingston.ca/ContactUs and giving a wave to crews as they clear streets and sidewalks in your neighbourhood.”

According to Utilities Kingston, their employees worked around the clock to respond to the challenges presented by this major winter storm. They offered the following examples:

  • Their staff responded to power outages caused by high winds, damage to pole line equipment and downed trees. 
  • Traffic signal technicians responded to many intersections that were damaged by strong winds, and snow and ice build up.  
  • Certified technicians responded to damage to a gas meter riser, which resulted in a natural gas leak. Their team worked through the night to excavate the area and make repairs, ensuring the safety and reliability of natural gas services to our customers. 
  • Operators monitored water and wastewater treatment plants on a 24-hour basis. These facilities were impacted by heavy rains and power interruptions. Staff ensured the continued reliability of services, the environmental protection of local water bodies and high quality drinking water.

The City of Kingston also offered these saftey reminders of local residents:

“Heavy accumulations of snow can bring trees and branches down onto powerlines and cause issues with utility equipment. Know who to call in case of a power outage. Keep snow and ice from building up on outdoor water, gas and electrical equipment, such as utility meters, fire hydrants and outdoor exhaust vents; and be aware of the dangers presented by carbon monoxide.”

Some additional tips from the City include:

you have any concerns about utility equipment, contact the Utilities Kingston 24-hour line at 613-546-1181. Never use social media to report a utility issue or emergency.

·       To protect worker and public safety, please slow down and follow all signs when crews are at work.

·       During stormy weather, be aware of, and avoid driving or walking under, dangling traffic signal heads. Report traffic signal issues in Kingston to 613-546-1181. Power outages and high winds mean that a number of traffic signals may not be working. Travelers are reminded to treat the affected intersections as though they are four-way stops and yield to traffic on the right.

·       If you see a downed power line or tree branch that has fallen on a power line, always assume it still has electricity flowing through it, even if it isn’t sparking. Stay back at least 10 metres or 33 feet (that’s about the length of a school bus) and don’t touch anything metal (such as guard rails) in the area. Report it immediately by calling 911 or your utility’s emergency.

Additionally, VIA Rail responded to Kingstonist inquiries regarding their service disruptions throughout the storm and what is currently happening with their passenger train services. Late on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, the rail company offered the scheduled trains for that day on the Toronto-Montreal corridor, which were on a “modified schedule.”

“All passengers scheduled to depart on December 27 who decide to change their travel plans will be able to autonomously cancel their reservations online and obtain a full refund (including a refund for any connection or return trips on the same booking). Furthermore, all passengers who were supposed to travel on cancelled trains between December 24 and 26 will automatically receive a full refund. Passengers must contact VIA Customer Centre if they wish to obtain a refund for any connection or return trips on the same booking,” the VIA Rail Media Relations team said in a statement.

“We thank our passengers for their understanding and invite them to consult our website for the latest information on our operations.”


Original article (Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022):
In the days following one of the most significant winter storm events to hit the Kingston region in decades, local residents – and the municipalities that serve them – are still shaking the snow off and looking around to survey the aftermath.

The blizzard of the decade began on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022, a day that usually sees thousands of Ontarians travelling to make it ‘home’ for Christmas or the final days of Hanukkah. And while many in the area decided to begin their travels the day before, heeding the forecasted “crippling blizzard conditions,” others attempted to do so as planned on Friday, only to find roadways, trains, and air traffic closed or increasingly at a standstill as the storm progressed and power outages flickered on outage maps like a string of old Christmas lights.

Snow plows in Loyalist Township and Lennox and Addington County, as well as Kingston Transit buses suspended services on Saturday, Dec. 24, 2022, after all three experienced their large vehicles struggling to stay on roadways. Similarly, dozens of vehicles were left in the roadways — or, worse yet, had stranded drivers and passengers inside — leading to emergency evacuations of vehicles with the help of the Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) on several highways locally. In a nearly-unprecedented event, a large swath of Highway 401 was also closed down entirely due to the number of stranded vehicles and collision as the storm mounted.

Several municipalities declared significant weather events, including the City of Kingston, something a provincial legislation update in 2018 allows for, the City said. Central Frontenac Township, Loyalist Township, Lennox and Addington County, North Frontenac Township, Stone Mills Township, and Tyendinaga all released statements noting that it might take the municipality longer than usual to bring the roads and sidewalks back to a usable state. On Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, the City of Kingston announced that the significant weather event had ended; however, the Winter Parking Ban remains in effect. Kingston residents can monitor the Winter Parking Ban on the City’s Winter Parking Page. All other municipalities have since rescinded the significant weather statements, apart from Lennox and Addington County (which declared a State of Emergency on Saturday, Dec. 24), Tyendinaga, and Stone Mills Township (which also declared a State of Emergency on Saturday, Dec. 24, which was terminated the following day). Greater Napanee, which had also declared a State of Emergency on Saturday, terminated that declaration on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, noting that sidewalk maintenance will begin on Wednesday, Dec. 28, 2022. Meanwhile, Prince Edward County, which was apparently hit the hardest by the storm, issued its 10th update on the effects of the storm on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, noting that, while all primary roads in the County have now been cleared, secondary road clearing and other cleanup efforts continue.

After a smattering of power outages across the region, including those lasting well over 24 hours on Wolfe Island and Amherst Island – which also suffered severe ferry service disruptions due to the storm – nearly all power in the area has now been restored. As of noon on Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2022, Utilities Kingston was reporting one power outage affecting five customers due to a fallen tree in the Strathcona Park area, and Hydro One was reporting one outage on Howe Island affecting “fewer than 20” customers as crews clear trees from power lines, and one outage in the Cataraqui North area affected “fewer than 20” customers, the cause of which was not yet known. An outage in Napanee affecting approximately 29 customers also remained ongoing, according to Hydro One, as did a few outages in Prince Edward County impacting approximately 27 customers.

Tragically, the storm resulted in the death of one Napanee resident: Laurie Simpson, who had ventured out into the storm to tend to farm chores and had gone missing, was located deceased on Sunday, Dec. 25, 2022.

Kingstonist has inquired of the City of Kingston, Utilities Kingston, and Via Rail about how services have been impacted and restored, as well as about cleanup efforts to deal with the downed trees and excessive snow remaining in the area. No response was received by time of publication.

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

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