A closer look at the most impactful outages of 2023

Mother Nature likes to keep us on our toes. Similar to years past, Ottawa faced its fair share of weather challenges in 2023 - from ice storms to tornadoes. But that didn’t stop our crews. They were out there, rain or shine, tackling not only the bouts of unpredictable weather, but also a variety of non-weather-related disruptions to ensure that the lights came back on as quickly as possible while making safety their top priority. Believe it or not, over the course of 2023, we responded to an impressive 1,152 outage events across the city.

As we step into a new year, we invite you to join us in revisiting some of the most impactful outages of 2023.

Adverse weather

Freezing rain -  On April 5, Ottawa grappled with a significant weather event, featuring a mix of rain, freezing rain, fog, and gusty winds reaching up to 60 km/h. The prolonged freezing rain led to substantial ice accumulation on trees, wires, and Hydro Ottawa's equipment, causing power outages for approximately 173,186 customers. The situation was compounded by falling trees, challenging road conditions that hindered crew response times, and persisting weather conditions into the following day. Despite these obstacles, our crews worked diligently throughout that Easter long-weekend to restore power to the affected areas.

Thunder and lightning -  The summer brought not just one, but two large outages fueled by thunder and lightning. On June 26, a storm took out power for approximately 15,413 customers, followed by a subsequent outage on July 28 when a series of severe thunderstorms and lightning hit the National Capital Region, impacting about 37,821 customers across the city. This was another multi-day restoration effort due to the extent of the damage from downed power lines and trees. 

Tornado and extreme winds - On July 13, a tornado touched down in Barrhaven, causing a power outage for 1809 customers. Although several homes and electrical infrastructure sustained damage, it paled in comparison to the destructive impact we witnessed from the strong winds of 2022’s Derecho or 2018 tornadoes. 

In the utility industry, crews are consistently gearing up for challenging situations, regardless of whether it's officially 'storm season.'  As climate change progresses, the frequency of multi-day outage restoration events is expected to rise, emphasizing the critical importance of emergency preparedness.


Loss of Supply

On May 17, a power outage disrupted approximately 14,530 Hydro Ottawa customers residing in Bay, College, and Kitchissippi wards, stemming from a ‘Loss of Supply’. This term refers to issues within Hydro One's transmission system, the lifeline delivering power to us from the Ontario grid. Unfortunately, when complications arise on their end, our customers may experience disruptions, despite the health of our own system. 

The source of this particular outage was traced to a tripped transformer at the Lincoln Heights station. Unbeknownst to our team at the time, a curious raccoon had wandered into the station. Our unsuspecting furry friend unintentionally tripped the transformer, adding a touch of animal interference to this outage scenario. In response, our crews promptly engaged in emergency switching procedures to restore power to our customers as safely and quickly as possible. 

Tree contact

On June 11, 4,361 customers in Rideau-Jock experienced a power outage triggered by tree contact with a power line, a common occurrence in a city abundant with trees, often resulting in power interruptions. As part of a routine maintenance program, Hydro Ottawa conducts tree trimming. Our trimming crews service over 60,000 trees annually, cutting only what is necessary for public safety and using proper pruning techniques. This proactive measure aims to minimize tree-related outages, reinforcing our commitment to a dependable power supply for the community.

If you notice a tree near an overhead power line, or you need a temporary outage to trim or remove trees on your property, submit a non-electrical service request online or contact us by telephone at 613-738-6400. 

Power out?

To stay informed about power outages affecting your home or business, remember to sign-up for our new Outage Alerts. Now, you can get the latest updates via SMS/text or email to help you plan accordingly.

As always, your outage tips can help us pinpoint the cause, speed up the restoration process and identify the source of smaller outages throughout the city. 

Submit your outage report online through your MyAccount portal, via our mobile app or by calling our 24/7 outage hotline at 613-738-0188.

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