TORONTO - Power companies are breathing a sigh of relief after severe thunderstorm warnings for a wide stretch of southern Ontario were lifted Wednesday night.
Environment Canada had issued severe thunderstorm watches and warnings alerting people of the potential development of severe weather Wednesday afternoon or evening in southern and eastern Ontario, but lifted many of those notices later Wednesday night.
That includes the Greater Toronto Area, which was badly battered by Monday's storms but appears to have avoided another bout with extreme weather.
The storm had caused power outages for 300,000 Toronto Hydro customers.
As of Wednesday night, 300 customers were still without power but Toronto Hydro spokeswoman Tayna Bruckmueller said a break in the weather would allow repairs to continue efficiently.
"If another storm were to come through, that would mean we'd be (repairing) on a more intense level, as opposed to focusing on customers who've been without power for 48 hours," she said.
Bruckmueller said repairs might go into Thursday morning depending on the extent of the damage.
Toronto Hydro is urging customers to conserve energy so the system can recover from the impact of record rainfall and flooding. The power grid is running on a temporary "single-contingency, no back-up" situation, Bruckmueller said.
"If we overload, a piece of equipment fails or a raccoon chews on something, we're in the same situation again," she said.
Monday's storm was an example of how the system is "at the mercy of environmental factors," Bruckmueller said, adding that it speaks to the need for improved infrastructure and better response planning.
"Generally in Toronto we've been pretty lucky to not have these sustained outages," she said.
Hydro One spokeswoman Tiziana Baccega Rosa said the better forecast is welcome, though the utility's work crews are still on the job.
"Does that mean we're out of the woods here? No. Our crews are still working around the clock" at two damaged Toronto stations, she said.