Blizzard conditions strand Islanders

The Wolfe Islander 3 ferry travels through heavy winds and snowfall. Photo by Daniel Tastard-Homer.

Residents of local islands were temporarily stranded by the blizzard on Friday, Dec. 23, 2022 as heavy winds and unusually tall waves made it impossible for the ferries to operate safely.

All of the Kingston-area vessels, including those serving Amherst Island, Wolfe Island, and Howe Island, were placed out of service due to hazardous winds for the majority of the afternoon and into Friday evening.

The local ferries began to go out of service at around 2 p.m. on Friday afternoon, as winds reached sustained speeds of 60 km/hr and gusts of nearly 90 km/hr. At around 4:30 p.m., crews of the Wolfe Islander 3 attempted to make adjustments to the dock at Dawson’s Point in order to allow for a docking, but were unsuccessful. “MTO Marine staff are unable to make adjustments to the ramp because of the conditions,” the MTO said after the attempt. “If we see an opportunity to make a trip we will try.”

Meanwhile, crews of the Frontenac II, a ferry serving Amherst Island, said that based on current weather forecasts, it was unlikely that the ferry would be able to run before Saturday afternoon.

The Wolfe Island ferry stoppage made it impossible for Hydro One crews to immediately begin repair work on a power outage affecting approximately 450 residents, who lost power on Friday evening. “Restoration is pending safe personnel or equipment access,” Hydro One said, estimating that power would not be restored before 3 p.m. on Saturday, Dec. 24.

To the west of Kingston, the Glenora Ferry was also placed out of service intermittently over the course of Friday afternoon and evening. East of Kingston, hazardous wind speeds closed the 1000 Islands Bridge to high profile commercial vehicles, including transports weighing less than 60,000 lbs, RVs, buses and empty enclosed trailers.

The City of Kingston has declared a Significant Weather Event, as have other surrounding municipalities Stone Mills, Brockville, Loyalist Township, Lennox & Addington County, Tyendinaga, and North, Central, and South Frontenac.

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