Nor'easter closes all schools, causes thousands of power outages

A major nor'easter pummelling the province today has forced all schools to close and disrupted power, business and travel.

Close to 2,000 NB Power customers woke up without power on Wednesday

A major nor'easter is making its way across the province on Wednesday, forcing several schools to close and thousands of power outages. In the meantime, Caleb Lajoie, 3, and Paul Lajoie enjoy playing in the snow at Moncton's Prince Edward Park. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

A major nor'easter pummelling the province today has forced all schools to close and disrupted power, business and travel.

All schools in the anglophone and francophone school districts were closed.

At mid-afternoon, close to 2,000 NB Power customers were still without power, down from more than 5,500 during the outage's peak Wednesday morning. About 1,300 of those customers were in the Kennebecasis Valley Fundy region.

"As power outages were reported overnight, NB Power crews made good progress restoring customers," said Marie-Andrée Bolduc, a spokesperson for NB Power.

A major nor'easter pummelling the province today has forced all schools to close and disrupted power, business and travel. 0:57

High winds, poor visibility and snow-covered roads continue to be a challenge for the 60 NB Power crews working to restore power lines across the province. But there has been no major damage to infrastructure. 

"Heavy wet snow has caused trees to make contact with lines and high winds have caused some lines to touch," she said.

Rue Principale in Neguac is covered in snow and blowing snow on Wednesday. (Gail Harding/CBC)

"The number of outages may fluctuate until the storm subsides."

NB Power also wants to remind motorists to slow down when they see crews working on the side of the road.

"If members of the public see downed lines, please stay at a safe distance of 10 metres," she said.

Caleb Lajoie, 3, and Owen Ranson, 11, are taking advantage of Wednesday's nor'easter and could be found sledding at Moncton’s Prince Edward Park. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

St. Thomas University and the University of New Brunswick's Fredericton campus delayed opening until 11:30 a.m. This includes all classes, administrative offices, gymnasiums and libraries except the Aitken University Centre, which will be open at its regular hours.

Classes at the New Brunswick Community College in Fredericton were cancelled but the campus opened at 11:30 a.m.

Snowblowing is a typical site in Moncton and across the rest of the province on Wednesday. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

Some businesses were either closed or late opening. Fredericton Transit delayed its start until 10:15 a.m. from Kings Place. Several flights from the Saint John, Moncton and Fredericton airports were also cancelled.

Federal government offices were to be closed until noon on Wednesday, while provincial and some municipal offices didn't open until later in the morning.

Storm warning continues

Most of the province remains under a winter storm warning from Environment Canada, as heavy snow, strong winds and blowing snow are expected to continue throughout the day.

About 35 to 55 centimetres of snow is forecast for the eastern region of the province but areas near the Gulf of St. Lawrence coast, could receive even more than that, Environment Canada said in a statement.

Heavy snow can be seen on Union Street in Saint John. (Julia Wright/CBC)

Total snowfall amounts of 20 to 35 centimetres are generally expected by late Wednesday night for western areas. 

"An intense low pressure system south of Nova Scotia will track across eastern Nova Scotia this morning and then linger over the Gulf of St. Lawrence today," the weather agency said.

"Rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult over some locations. Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow."

A city bus full of passengers in Saint John slid backward and got stuck on Pitt Street. The bus flashed a Not In Service sign as the stranded passengers waited to start moving again. (Julia Wright/CBC )

Felicia Murphy, a spokesperson for SNC-Lavalin, said roads are snow covered and slippery between Perth Andover and Longs Creek due to poor visibility. Travel is also not recommended from the U.S. border to Woodstock.

"The road itself is also snow covered with icy patches and slush," she said.

"We do ask you to delay your travels, if you do have to travel, keep it slow."

The Department of Transportation said travel advisories have been issued for Route 1 from Saint John to River Glade,
Route 8 from Jeanne Mance to Bathurst and Route 11 from Belledune to Tracadie. Only emergency vehicles are permitted from Janeville to Bertrand.

A family and their dog makes their way across Sydney Street from Queen Square in Saint John. (Julia Wright/CBC )

Mike Walker, manager of roadway operations for the City of Fredericton, said crews have been working overnight and said drivers should give themselves lots of room to stop on their way to work. 

He said blowing snow will also fill sidewalks throughout the day. 

"Main streets are looking pretty good right now but they're certainly slushy and very wet," he said.

A little snow wasn't stopping these two stylish ladies from going for a stroll on Leinster Street in Saint John. (Julia Wright/CBC)

"You can certainly slide around on that." 

He said it'll take a few days to get everything cleaned up.

Kalin Mitchell, CBC meteorologist, said winds would continue to be strong Wednesday afternoon, gusting to 70 km/h along the Bay of Fundy coast.

The top peak winds in New Brunswick overnight were in Moncton, where the wind reached 85 km/h, Grand Manan, 81 km/h, and Fredericton,  76 km/h, Mitchell said.

New Brunswick forecast

Northern New Brunswick

Today: Cloudy with snow and blowing snow. Snowfall between 10 and 20 cm of snow, highest amounts in the east. Northeasterly winds will be travelling between 20 km/h and 40 km/h in the afternoon. Temperatures will be at a high near 0 C.

Tonight: Cloudy with snow easing to flurries in the evening. Southwesterly winds will be travelling at about 20 km/h. Temperatures will drop to –5 C.

Thursday: Cloudy with sunny breaks with flurries and showers. Southwesterly winds will be travelling at 20 km/h and gusting to 40 km/h in the afternoon. Temperatures will be at a high of 3 C.

Fredericton and area

Today: Cloudy with periods of snow between 10 cm and 15 cm. Westerly winds will be travelling at about 20 km/h. Temperatures will be at a high of 3 C.

Tonight: Cloudy with flurries. Southwesterly winds will be travelling at about 10 km/h by midnight. Temperatures will drop to a low near –4 C.

Thursday: Cloudy with sunny breaks with isolated showers or flurries. Westerly winds will also be travelling between 20 km/h and 40 km/h in the afternoon. Temperatures will be at a high near 3 C.

Southern New Brunswick

Today: Cloudy with periods of snow or a mix of snow, ice pellets and rain. Snowfall between between 10 cm and 15 cm is expected.

Southwesterly winds will be travelling between 30 km/h and 50 km/h in the afternoon. Temperatures will be at a high near 2 C.

Tonight: Mostly cloudy with isolated showers or flurries. Southwesterly winds will be travelling between 20 km/h and 40 km/h by midnight. Temperatures will be at a low near –1 C.

Thursday: Cloudy with isolated showers or flurries. Southwesterly winds will be travelling between 30 km/h and 50 km/h in the afternoon. Temperatures will be at a high of about 4 C.