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Pedestrians should be on the lookout for falling ice as temperatures rise above zero.

Warm up in Ontario both a help and a hindrance

Digital writers

Saturday, December 28, 2013, 9:29 AM -

The thick ice coating homes and power lines across southern Ontario may finally see a widespread melt this weekend, thanks to a long-overdue warm up.

Mild air flowed into Ontario Friday night, such that temperatures were already a little above freezing even before sunrise.

That, combined with winds of up to 30 km/h should dislodge much of the ice build up remaining from last weekend's devastating ice storm.

Forecasters say temperatures will likely stay nicely above zero in many places until Sunday night, when the deep freeze returns.

Early Saturday morning, people on Twitter were commenting on the sound of increasingly brittle ice finally tumbling off trees and homes.

That's good news for utilities trying to restore the last lingering outages left over from last weekend's ice storm, but it does mean pedestrians need to keep aware of what might be tumbling down as they walk outside Saturday.

Toronto Police issued a public safety alert in the late morning, saying they had received "numerous" calls about falling ice, the latest coming from a construction crane.

Police have sealed off several roads in the city that are believed to be the most dangerous, and are warning pedestrians to be careful.

Travellers are also advised to keep an eye on road conditions, as some of the falling ice may find itself on the roads.

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But as much of a help as the melt and moderate winds can be to power restoration efforts, it could also be a hindrance, as the falling ice could land on power lines and other infrastructure.

Thousands of people from Ontario to Atlantic Canada were still without power Saturday morning, a week after the ice storm left the landscape covered in ice up to 3 cm thick.

Toronto Hydro reported Saturday only 8 per cent of the more than 300,000 customers who lost power last weekend remained to be reconnected - roughly 24,000 customers.

Hydro One was reporting less than 10,000 customers still without power Saturday morning, down from more than 100,000 last week. Hydro Quebec was reporting less than 3,000.

In New Brunswick, however, some 12,000 outages remained. The Atlantic provinces have been battered by storm after storm since last weekend, with another on the way Sunday night.

NB Power has warned customers that the new system could hurt restoration efforts, and expect most outages fixed by end of day Tuesday.

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