With much of Canada under weather warnings, a mix of ice and rain is causing headaches for Maritime travellers ahead of the Christmas break.
A large trough of low pressure stretching from the Great Lakes through to the Maritimes will bring a mixed bag of weather today into Monday.
That trough has been fluctuating to the north, then the south, causing changes to the types of precipitation seen. This is making for a messy mix of snow, freezing rain, ice pellets and rain right across the region.
Most of Nova Scotia remains under a freezing rain warning that is expected to last until at least midnight, but the warnings for southwestern Nova Scotia were lifted Sunday afternoon.
Some New Brunswickers awoke Sunday to cars covered in a sheet of ice. By Sunday afternoon, the entire province of New Brunswick remained under a snowfall and/or freezing rain warning.
Prince Edward Island remains under a snowfall warning with a mix of snow pellets and snow expect to last until after midnight.
CBC Meteorologist Peter Coade said the whole system while move northward tomorrow, leaving warmer temperatures to the south, which will cause much of the freezing rain to change to rain across southern New Brunswick and the rest of Nova Scotia.
However, this system moving north will mean snow mixed with rain or changing to freezing rain later on Monday for the rest of New Brunswick, those in the north, and P.E.I.
On Tuesday, the storm will move on to Newfoundland and Labrador leaving behind colder temperatures but clear skies for Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day. Coade said places where the northwest wind blows onshore could see some flurries.
Delays piling up
At Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport, most flights were either cancelled or delayed Sunday, but not necessarily because of weather problems in Halifax.
“A lot of the flights that were due to come from Toronto have been delayed and therefore their departure out of Halifax is subsequently delayed, so the whole system is in a bit of an uproar at the moment,” said Peter Spurway, spokesperson for Halifax airport.
He said the airport has been staying ahead of the icy conditions by spraying chemicals on the runway which keep it from freezing. But he's not sure how long they'll be able to hold the ice at bay.
“We’ve got about seven more hours of freezing rain to come down at the airport and [spraying the runways] will help for a while, and our guys will do their very best to stay ahead of it but it may come at some point where the freezing rain does get the upper hand,” said Spurway.
He said a couple of important cargo flights loaded with lobster, did manage to leave on schedule today.
'It may come at some point where the freezing rain does get the upper hand.' - Halifax airport spokesman Peter Spurway
“We had one from Korean [airlines] that came in shortly after midnight, it’s about a 90 minute turn around for them to refuel and then to load the lobster. In the Korean [airlines] example they had 80,000 kilograms and then around 6:30 or so we had Cargolux, from Belgium, came in with their 747 freighter and off they went today with no problem at all,” said Spurway.
At all three major airports in New Brunswick and the Charlottetown airport there were also a few delays and cancellations caused by the massive ice storm.
CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell said all travellers should check the road conditions and airline schedules to make sure their travel plans won’t be disrupted.
"Icy roads, airport cancellations and widespread power outages are all risks with that much freezing rain. Power outages would be a result of the weight put on lines and tree branches by ice," he said.
People travelling to and from Newfoundland are in luck. According to Marine Atlantic’s website, all sailings are running on time.
RCMP across the Maritimes are asking people to stay off the roads unless absolutely necessary. Police are asking people if they plan to travel today to "plan ahead, adjust their speed and allow for extra time and stopping distance."
The storm has already caused power outages for nearly 4,000 customers in New Brunswick, mostly in the St. Stephen area. Another 1,161 Nova Scotia Power customers in north-end Halifax were in the dark Sunday. On P.E.I., Maritime Electric reported no power outages.