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Tens of thousands still without power after Quebec blanketed with heavy snow

Snowfall warnings are in effect for many areas across the province.  (Flavie Villeneuve/Radio-Canada - image credit)
Snowfall warnings are in effect for many areas across the province. (Flavie Villeneuve/Radio-Canada - image credit)

Tens of thousands of Hydro-Québec customers are still without electricity Sunday afternoon after large, wet snowflakes fell across Quebec earlier in the day.

More than 59,000 clients were still in the dark as of 4:00 p.m. At the height of the outages, that number was more than 123,000.

Most of the outages are in the Mauricie and Quebec City regions, followed by the Laurentians.

Hydro-Québec spokesperson Gabrielle LeBlanc says heavy snow weighed down tree branches, causing them to hit power lines.

Leblanc says more than 100 teams are working on the ground in the most affected regions to restore power as quickly as possible, but it's still too early to say when all customers will get their lights back.

"The damages are still being assessed on the ground so it's hard for me to say how long it will take," Leblanc said, adding she'll have a more precise estimate later in the day.

Snowfall warnings are in effect for many areas across the province, stretching from the west to the east, where 25 to 35 centimetres have already fallen in certain areas, according to Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC). About 10 additional centimetres are possible by the time precipitation tapers off in some regions.

ECCC warns the snow, which could be mixed with rain at times, could add "considerable weight to structures and trees, making them more prone to breaking."

The agency is urging people to consider changing any non-essential travel plans.

By 8:30 a.m., the downtown Montreal area had already received seven centimetres of snow, according to a preliminary summary released by ECCC.

Quebec City had received 10 centimetres by that time, while Trois-Rivières, Shawinigan and Rouyn-Noranda had received 18, 15 and 13, respectively.