Storm damages buildings, cuts power to thousands across Quebec

A fast-moving thunderstorm that blew through Quebec on Saturday damaged buildings, uprooted trees and led to the death of one woman when her boat capsized.

Earlier Saturday, Environment Canada had issued a tornado across many parts of western, central and southern regions.

By 10 p.m. ET, most warnings had ended. However, some severe thunderstorm watches remained in eastern Quebec, south of the St. Lawrence River.

More than 510,000 customers were out of power as of 9:45 p.m. ET, Hydro Quebec said. Most of the power outages were in the Quebec City, Outaouais, Laurentians, Lanaudière and the Montérégie regions.

The bell tower of the Saint-Fidèle de Fassett church in Outaouais was completely destroyed on Saturday. (Submitted Chantale Lauzon)

In Gatineau, Que., a 51-year-old woman died when her boat capsized on the Ottawa River in the city’s Masson-Angers sector, police told Radio-Canada.

The woman fell in the water and was taken to hospital, where she was pronounced dead, police said.

In the Mauricie region, Radio-Canada reported that 200 trees had fallen at the Du Moulin Golf Club in Trois-Rivières.

In the Laurentians, roads were seen blocked with downed trees and power lines as the evening approached.

| Drivers clear a road south of Lost River in the Laurentians.

Drivers clear blocked roads in the Laurentians

Drivers break up a pine tree using a strap to clear a road south of Lost River in the Laurentians.

Video posted to social media also showed heavy winds hitting the Saint-Lin-Laurentides area. 

Earlier Saturday, Environment Canada said conditions were favourable for the development of severe thunderstorms that could produce tornadoes in an area stretching from the Eastern Townships through central Quebec — including Trois-Rivières — and up to Quebec City.

Tornado warnings were issued for the following regions: Eastern Townships, Beauce, Drummondville-Bois-Francs, Mauricie, Quebec City and Montmagny-L’Islet. They were all lifted by Saturday evening.

A downed tree was spotted in Montreal’s Hochelaga-Maisonneuve neighbourhood on Saturday. (Amélie Fortin/Radio-Canada)

Environment Canada says people should be prepared for the severe weather and should take cover immediately if heavy storms approach, particularly if their area is under a tornado watch. 

To stay safe during a tornado, the agency recommends heading indoors to the lowest-level room possible, away from walls and windows facing the outdoors, such as in a basement or closet.

Choose a strong building, leaving mobile homes, trailers and cars behind. As a last resort, it recommends lying in a low spot and protecting your head from any flying debris. 

“This is a dangerous and potentially life-threatening situation,” the weather agency said, adding to out for lightning.

A full breakdown of the warnings for each Quebec region can be found on Environment Canada’s public alert page.

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