Storm leaves tens of thousands without electricity

March is going out like a lion in New Brunswick as a slow-moving storm system dumps a mix of snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and rain on the province for a second straight day.

Shediac, Bouctouche, Moncton hardest hit by outages as storm batters province for 2nd straight day

March is going out like a lion in New Brunswick as a slow-moving storm system dumps a mix of snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and rain on the province for a second straight day.

Weather warnings are in place for about half the province, with an additional 25 centimetres of a winter mix of snow and ice pellets possible in some areas. The warnings for the Fredericton, York Sunbury, and Carleton County areas were dropped late Monday morning.

At one point 48,000 customers were affected by NB Power outages Monday afternoon.

More than 14,000 of the outages were in Moncton. A main transmission line serving large areas of the city was knocked offline, the utility said.

The Shediac and Bouctouche areas were also hard hit, with more than 8,000 customers in each area without electricity.

On Route 126 north of Moncton, five power poles came down. Cutting off power to people in the area and creating a hazard along the side of the road. (Melissa Oakley/CBC)
"Overnight, things really picked up in those areas with a lot of wind and trees on the lines," said NB Power spokesperson Meagan Gerrish. "That's where most of our efforts are going to be throughout the day today."

The slow moving storm has been a challenge for crews racing to keep up with outages.

On Route 126 north of Moncton, five power poles came down. Cutting off power to people in the area and creating a hazard along the side of the road. Trees bent under the weight of the massive amounts of rain and freezing rain that the area has seen in the last day. 

Outages expected to get worse

About 150 workers were dealing with outages across the province, but with all of the ice buildup and continuing precipitation, it's not a fast, or an easy task, said Gerrish.

It's supposed to get worse before it gets better, she said. As of 11:16 p.m. AT, nearly 27,000 customers in the province remained without power.

"We expect outage numbers to continue to climb, but we are working our very hardest to get those numbers back down again," she said.

Crews will continue to work through the night and into tomorrow morning, said Gerrish.

In Shediac, nearly every business on Main Street was closed on Monday. Many residents, like Paula Stilwell, have been without power since Sunday night.

"It was quite cold this morning, and I find it's getting colder now, so we thought we might take a drive and see if anything's open, so we can get some food, but everything seems to be closed still," she said.

"It was the worst winter ever, the longest winter ever," said a frustrated Kevin Petitpas, one of many area residents stocking up on supplies at a local gas station. "And there's still a couple of more storms on the way."

Environment Canada storm warnings advise that another 15 to 25 centimetres of ice pellets and an extended period of freezing rain is expected Monday and into Tuesday.

"Generally heavy snow and blowing snow is occurring over northeastern New Brunswick with a mixture of snow, ice pellets and freezing rain over central regions. Over the south freezing rain or rain is occurring over most areas," states Environment Canada.

"The freezing rain and rain will gradually change to ice pellets later today then to snow this evening.

"Due to the slow movement of this system all precipitation forms will give significant accumulations over their respective regions. Many hours and significant accumulation of freezing rain and ice pellets are expected over central and southern regions today."

CBC meteorologist Peter Coade said the weather system could affect the province for another day or two.

Sidewalk and road-clearing crews like this one working on a street in Riverview were kept busy through the night. (Karin Reid-LeBlanc/CBC)
"This disturbance affecting us, it's not a very intense one, but it's a very large one," said Coade, noting that radar shows the system extending as far south as New Jersey and Delaware.

The weather also resulted in some flights being cancelled and other cancellations being reported to the CBC Storm Centre.

Highway officials say the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton is passable, but motorists are advised to drive with caution.

In Saint John, some streets were closed Monday due to localized flooding. Affected streets were:

  • Westmorland Road from McAllister Drive to Downey Ford
  • Ashburn Lake Road
  • Various parts of Rothesay Avenue (including the underpass at Rothesay Road)
  • A small section at the end of Dominion Park Road.

Most schools close

Schools closed in most of the province.

All schools were closed in Anglophone West, Anglophone East and Anglophone North school districts.

In the Anglophone South school district, schools opened, except those in the St. Stephen area.

However, it was then decided that schools in Anglophone South will be shutting down for the day two hours earlier than usual.

Elementary school students were scheduled to be dismissed at 11: 45 a.m., followed by middle school students at 12:30 p.m. and high school students at 1:30 p.m.

Schools in Francophone North-East and Francophone North-West were also closed. In the Francophone South school district, all schools except those in the Saint John area are closed.



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