‘Ottawa’ Fire and Ice Weather Brings Lightning Strikes, Flooding and freeze-ups
In a man bites dog weather story, a house in south Ottawa was damaged by lightning Saturday, more than three weeks before spring’s officially due, just one other bit of weirdness in the city’s whipsaw February weather.
The bolt struck a shed at the back of a home at 5503 Spratt Rd., near Manotick, and the current travelled through underground wiring into the house, blowing the electrical panel off the wall. A burning electrical cable then ignited a small fire on a mattress, which was extinguished by firefighters.
The residents were home a the time and called 911. The damage was not serious.
“There’s no doubt that lightning strikes are usually a summer phenomena,” said platoon Chief Marc Asselin. “It’s a very strange call. You’d normally think we’d be more concerned about flooding, not lightning calls. We’ll see what happens when it all freezes up again.”
The freeze-thaw cycle continued to play havoc with the region’s roads of many potholes. In Gatineau, a pothole gave rise to a desk-sized sinkhole that forced police to close northbound Boulevard Maisonneuve near Rue Verdun and detour traffic onto Boulevard Sacré-Coeur. The road was repaired and reopened just before noon Sunday.
Thunder rumbled throughout the region overnight Friday and during the day Saturday, a day when the projected balmy high of 14 C was revised to 10, then 7 but didn’t seem to really get above 2, accompanied by fog and drizzle.
But the warmth of the past few days was enough to attract some early arrivals along the Rideau River near Merrickville.
Phil Colwill photographed several juvenile tundra swans on Feb. 22. The birds are not common visitors to the area, usually migrating along a route that takes them through Southwestern Ontario on their way to their breeding grounds in the Arctic.
“A few tundra swans come through here in the spring, but these are way, way early,” Colwill said.
The Lambton County Heritage Museum logs the annual arrival date of the swan, which is typically mid- to late-March, with the exception of 2012 when the swans arrived on Feb. 2. Lambton County usually sees the swans several weeks before they make an appearance here, Colwill said.
The warmth has also been prevalent enough that Ottawa police and other first responders have been issuing stern cautions to residents to stay away from bodies of water.
And conservation authorities have continued their alerts for possible flooding in coming days.
The temperature drops below freezing again Saturday night for a low of -7. Sunday is to be a mix of sun and cloud with a high of 1 C.
Monday promises a mix of sun and cloud with a high of 3 C and a 30-per-cent chance of flurries.