A major winter storm is expected to pummel its way through New Brunswick this week, causing possible power outages, road closures and other travel disruptions.

Environment Canada said a winter storm warning is in effect for New Brunswick, with hazardous winter conditions expected on Thursday and total snowfall amounts of between 20 and 40 centimetres.

Snow is expected to start falling around 9 a.m. on Thursday over the Fundy region, and spreading north, with heavy and blowing snow expected to start in Fredericton and Moncton at about noon.

On Thursday evening, the snow will change to ice pellets and then to rain southeast of a line from Charlotte County to Grand Lake to Kent county.

"Current guidance shows the storm approaching the Maritimes from the southwest and passing over southeastern New Brunswick Thursday night," the weather agency said in a statement on Wednesday morning. 

"Conditions will deteriorate Thursday afternoon due to accumulating snow."

Wind gusts up to 90 km/h

Northeasterly winds will also strengthen with gusts near 90 km/h along coastal areas in late afternoon or evening.

Strong winds are expected to shift to northwesterly winds by Thursday night, which combined with rapidly accumulating snow will make for poor visibility in blowing snow.

"Very strong northeast winds will also result in elevated water levels, which could lead to some minor coastal flooding along the south shore of the Bay of Chaleur and the Acadian coast around high tide Thursday night to early Friday," Environment Canada said.

"Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions. Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow. Road closures are possible."

What's a weather bomb?

The fast drop in pressure — a fall of 24 millibars in 24 hours — is known as "bombing out," producing a "weather bomb," said Mitchell.

This results in a storm that develops "explosively" quickly and with a significant amount of power.

Some forecasts are predicting the central pressure of the storm to drop near 950 millibars, "which is virtually unheard of in the Atlantic outside of a hurricane," Mitchell said. 

Mitchell said some forecasts are comparing the storm to a "winter hurricane," but there are some important differences. 

Hurricanes get their power from warm ocean waters but Thursday's storm will get its power from the clash between the very cold Arctic air sitting over eastern North America and the warm air contained within the system that's moving north from the Bahamas.]

Are you ready for it?

The province's Emergency Measures Organization issued a weather advisory on Tuesday.

Danielle Elliott, a spokesperson with EMO, said in these types of weather events, residents should be prepared for any type of emergency, such as a power outage. 

She said New Brunswickers are reminded to have everything they need for at least 72 hours following a storm.

Residents can also be prepared by having an emergency kit in their homes and cars.

Emergency kits should include food, water, radios, batteries, first-aid supplies and special items they might need.

She also advised drivers to stay off the roads, because they will be snow-covered and visibility will be poor

"We want people to avoid travel as much as possible," she said. "Stay home if possible."

Last year's January ice storm, which started in southern New Brunswick on Jan. 24 and spread to the northeast, knocked out power to about 133,000 homes and businesses at its peak, leaving some without electricity for 11 days.

Two people died and 45 people were taken to hospital because of carbon monoxide poisoning, in most cases from the use of generators or barbecues in garages or homes.

"We learned the importance of preparedness and communication, so we've been working through our regional co-ordinators to ensure preparedness at all levels," she said. 

N.B. ice storm sparks widespread power outages4:46

Elliott said EMO will be working alongside Environment and Climate Change Canada, NB Power, the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure and municipalities across the province to ensure the public's safety throughout the storm.

NB Power has added 10 contractor crews in Fredericton and Miramichi in preparation for the storm. The utility said crews will respond if required and when it is safe to do. 

NB Power is reinforcing its electrical infrastructure in the Acadian Peninsula with the installation of 17 steel poles on the Lameque causeway. Power poles in the area were broken during severe storms in the winter and spring of last year, causing widespread outages.

"We want to make sure that families are prepared, that municipalities are prepared and that we as a province are there to support families in the municipalities," she said. 

With files from Information Morning Moncton, Cassie Williams