A full-force storm blew into Atlantic Canada on Wednesday, with the western half of Newfoundland under a blizzard warning.

The RCMP in Port aux Basques warned drivers to stay off the area's roads unless absolutely necessary.

Police said high winds and blowing snow have created whiteout conditions, and some of the roads on the west coast of the island aren't accessible.

Rodney Barney, a meteorologist at Environment Canada, said winds at the Gulf of Maine buoy hit 191 km/h at around 2 p.m. on Wednesday.

Many flights scheduled at St. John's International Airport have been delayed or cancelled.

Hydro preps for outages

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro says it was preparing for the storm forecasted to hit much of the island on Wednesday evening.

Wind map for March 26 2014

High winds are expected across much of the province as a spring storm, with blizzard conditions in western Newfoundland, sweeps in. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro is recommending customers prepare for possible outages that may be caused by severe weather conditions.

In a release sent out Wednesday afternoon, Hydro said it has activated its emergency preparedness protocols and put staff on standby where necessary.

The utility said it will keep its call centre open past regular hours Wednesday night to assist customers.

Blizzard conditions for western Newfoundland

Environment Canada says winds in the notorious Wreckhouse area could hit as high as 180 km/h as the storm hits full strength.

Trucks have been known to be pushed, if not thrown, off the highway as they pass through the Wreckhouse area — an isolated stretch in western Newfoundland.

Derm Kearney, an Environment Canada meteorologist in Gander, said the winds will be powerful.

"Some of us yesterday were saying that [Wreckhouse] estimate may be somewhat conservative," he told CBC News Wednesday morning.

"So we're really keeping an eye on that, and other parts of the west coast

[will reach] 140, 160."
RCMP NL Twitter photo TCH west coast storm

A shot of the Trans-Canada Highway on Newfoundland's west coast Wednesday evening. According to the RCMP, there is a tractor-trailer somewhere on the road in this image. (RCMP Twitter photo)

High winds and blowing snow will strike the rest of the island, with winds between 100 km/h and 140 km/h expected in eastern Newfoundland late Wednesday.

The forecast for the storm — expected to dump 50 cm of snow in parts of the Maritimes — prompted Marine Atlantic to cancel its crossings between Port aux Basques and North Sydney for both Wednesday and Thursday. Customers booked on those crossings have been told they will depart Friday, depending on that day's weather.

The blizzard warning also includes the Burin Peninsula and some communities on Newfoundland's south coast.

The storm will push into southern Labrador on Thursday.