Hydro-Québec crews are out working to get the lights back on for tens of thousands of clients across Quebec after violent winds and heavy rain pummeled much of the province overnight.

More than 180,000 customers are without power as of early Thursday morning due to the intense wind gusts. 

Most of the outages are in the Montérégie and Montreal regions, followed by the Eastern Townships, Lanaudière and the Laurentians.

The public utility said a total of 470 teams will be working to restore electricity as quickly as possible. 

Six schools under the Lester B. Pearson School Board, including four elementary schools, are closed Thursday due to the ongoing power outages. 

The New Frontiers School Board in Châteauguay, southwest of Montreal, says two of its schools are also closed.

As the temperatures around the province plummeted Wednesday evening, winds gusted well above 60 kilometres an hour.

In Montreal, a power outage resulted in a major breakdown of Montreal’s light-rail network, the Réseau express métropolitain (REM). 

Four trains, one of which was empty, were stalled in both directions Wednesday around 7 p.m., affecting some 100 passengers. 

Environment Canada had issued warnings Wednesday morning of strong winds and sudden temperature drops for almost all regions of Quebec, including violent westerly winds blowing up to 90 kilometres per hour.

In less than five hours, the temperature in the greater Montreal area went from 13 C to -12 C. 

Temperatures are expected to stay well below freezing Thursday. 

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