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Snowstorm causes travel havoc in Canada

Toronto mayor calls storm, which left three people dead, one of the worst in city's history.

Last updated: 23 Dec 2013 17:40
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Utility companies said power outages hit more than 400,000 customers in Canada's major provinces. [Reuters]

An ice storm has brought freezing rain across Canada, cutting power to hundreds of thousands of people and wreaking havoc on holiday plans at one of the busiest travel times of the year.

Utility companies said power outages hit more than 400,000 customers in Ontario, Quebec and New Brunswick as Canadian crews struggled to restore service on Monday.

Icy roads are being blamed for the deaths of three people, and roads and sidewalks turned into skating rinks.

Toronto Mayor Rob Ford is calling it one of the worst storms in the city's history.

The storm has stranded passengers at airports from Toronto to St. John's, Newfoundland, just days before Christmas.

The storm is drawing comparisons to the deadly ice storm that hit Eastern Canada in January 1998 when more than two dozen people died and about three million people were without power.

In the United States, where some 85.8 million people are expected to hit the roads between Dec. 21 and New Year's Day, and 5.5 million will fly, ice storms and heavy snowfall were also reported in several states over the weekend.   

A massive storm system closed roads and hampered travel in the state of Missouri on Saturday.

Freezing rain combined with snow that melted during recent unseasonably warm temperatures also made roads icy in upstate New York near the Canadian border, according to the New York State Department of Transportation website.

At Chicago's O'Hare International Airport, one of the busiest airports in the world, delays due to the weather condition affected some of the 200,000 passengers on Sunday.

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