Southern Ontario, Quebec and parts of the Maritimes continue to be lashed by superstorm Sandy — which has killed one woman in Toronto — as the massive weather system churns its way north.
The destructive post-tropical storm has already wheeled through the northeastern U.S. — where it has caused flooding, widespread power outages and more than a dozen deaths — and is now pummelling parts of Canada with strong winds and heavy rain.
The superstorm has left more than 200,000 people across Ontario and parts of Quebec without power, impeded Toronto transit systems, and triggered the cancellation of a quarter of all flights at Toronto Pearson Airport.
For forecasters, the superstorm's unrelenting winds are the greatest concern.
"Wind will be the biggest threat today, [but] it will diminish throughout the morning for Ontario," said CBC Meteorologist Jay Scotland.
"We're still just seeing it really ramping up into Atlantic Canada. Gusty winds certainly, but not as potent as what the U.S. northeast saw. There are some rainfall warnings also in effect for the Maritimes, pounding surf as well for the St. Lawrence and the Great Lakes."
Southern Ontario is expected to bear the brunt of the storm today, with powerful winds being more of a concern for forecasters than the rain.
Environment Canada has ended wind warnings for most of southern Ontario. However, a warning remains in effect in Sarnia, in southwestern Ontario, which the agency says had among the highest gusts at 100 km/h.
Winds reached speeds of 103 km/h overnight, but the threat comes from prolonged winds at 40 to 60 km/h, said Scotland.
"We're used to dealing with powerful gusts that come with thunderstorms but sustained winds at this level spanning hours is a relatively rare occurrence in Ontario," he said.
Those gusts claimed a life in Monday night in Toronto. Police say a woman was killed by a falling sign as winds of 65 km/h whipped the city.
The woman, in her 50s, was hit in the head by a sign panel measuring about two-metres wide while walking in a commercial parking lot near Keele Street and St. Clair Avenue. The panel was ripped off by a strong gust of wind, police say. She was pronounced dead at the scene.
Sandy was unleashing its wrath on New York City at the time, but the Canadian Hurricane Centre said the impact of the weather system extended over a thousand kilometres from the storm's centre.
Many Canadians living in Sandy's path have taken to Twitter and Facebook to discuss the power outages, rattling windows and damage to backyards caused by the storm. However, some fake photos of Sandy's aftermath were being circulated on various social media networks.
Toronto Police sit at a taped off Staples outlet parking lot after strong storm winds caused a piece of a sign to fall, killing one, in Toronto on Monday.
About 150,000 people in Ontario were without power, said Energy Minister Chris Bentley in a statement.
As many as 55,000 people in Toronto were in the dark, Jennifer Link, a spokewoman for Toronto Hydro told CBC News. This figure has come down to roughly 45,000, as emergency crews work to resolve outages across the city, Toronto Hydro said.
An additional 90,000 people in several other communities across southern Ontario are without power, according to Hydro One.
And in Quebec, about 48,000 thousand homes and businesses in the province were without power. Roughly 28,000 of those customers are in the Laurentians, although the Lanaudiere and Monteregie regions were also affected.
Meanwhile, the weather also caused transportation woes in Toronto Tuesday morning.
At Toronto's Pearson Airport, about 25 per cent of all incoming and departing flights were cancelled this morning in the wake of the superstorm. Several Toronto buses and streetcars were being diverted due to fallen tree limbs, hydro poles and downed wires, according to the Toronto Transit Commission.
Early Tuesday, there were reports of a fire near Queen and Peter Street in downtown Toronto, though it was not immediately clear if the fire had anything to do with the storm.
Wind-battered Quebec, southern Nova Scotia
Wind warnings were in effect for much of southern Ontario, from southern Georgian Bay to Kingston, Ont., and along the St. Lawrence River, but were lifted by about 7 a.m. ET Tuesday.
A warning remains in effect in Sarnia, however, which Environment Canada says had among the highest gusts at 100 km/h.
Parts of southern Quebec and southwestern Nova Scotia will also be whipped by strong winds, but the gusts will not be blowing as hard as in Ontario.
As the storm swirls its way north, officials are urging people in Ontario, Quebec and the Maritimes to take precautions through the day.
At their strongest predicted point, today's winds could down trees, hurl debris through neighbourhoods, create difficulties for motorists on highways and even make it difficult to walk down a street, said Rob Kuhn, a severe weather meteorologist with Environment Canada's Ontario Storm Prediction Centre.
"If somebody loses their balance, they could get knocked over," he said.
Pounding surf along the southern shores of the Great Lakes also remains an issue this morning, said Scotland.
"[It] will likely be most pronounced in the Niagara Region and even more so south of Lake Huron as northerly winds are intensified with little friction over a long stretch on this north to south oriented lake," he said.
In Quebec, a storm surge warning is in effect for the St. Lawrence as gusty winds will pile water up on shore for those along the river.
Rain is also an issue today, but the showers, while they will be heavy, are likely to come in sporadic bursts.
"There's shots of heavy rain but it doesn't last long. This is more of a wind storm," Kuhn said.
Southern Ontario expects between 20-40 millimetres of rain, although some areas could see higher amounts, while southern and central Quebec could also see some showers, according to Environment Canada.
The precipitation could turn into snow over parts of Ontario and western Quebec, said Environment Canada.
The southwestern Maritimes are also likely to experience a soggy day with rain that could persist into Wednesday with total amounts which could exceed 50 millimetres.
Higher than normal water levels and pounding surf is expected along the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia and along the St. Lawrence River. Forecasters are warning that some coastal flooding could be seen in the Quebec City region.
Sandy expected to weaken by midday
Public Safety Minister Vic Toews has said the military and the Canadian Coast Guard are on standby to help grapple with any havoc wreaked by Sandy.
Health Canada is conducting generator checks and has reviewed the National Emergency Stockpile, which contains supplies such as beds, blankets and antibiotics. Meanwhile, the Red Cross says it has 550 volunteers on standby in Ontario and the Atlantic provinces.
Sandy is expected to weaken through the day, notably starting around lunchtime, said Environment Canada meteorologist Etienne Gregoire.
"Typically, hurricanes, when they make landfall and become post-tropical [cyclones], they lose about 50 per cent of their energy in the first 24 hours. So we're going to see the remnants of Sandy really diminish in intensity through day," he told CBC News.
Environment Canada expects winds in Ontario to drop to between 40 and 60 kilometres per hour this afternoon and predicts gusts between 30 and 50 kilometres an hour by tonight.
Sandy made landfall in the U.S. Monday evening, just after forecasters stripped it of hurricane status, but the distinction was purely technical, based on its shape and internal temperature.
It still packed hurricane-force wind, and forecasters were careful to say it was still dangerous to the tens of millions in its path.
The storm killed 69 people in the Caribbean before making its way up the Atlantic.
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