School cancellations, travel delays and power outages continued across the Maritimes for a second day following a blizzard that dumped more than 10 centimetres of snow per hour at its peak.

The storm crippled most of the Maritimes after as much as 50 centimetres of snow fell on Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Winds gusting up to 165 km/h were recorded in Grand Etang, Cape Breton.

All Marine Atlantic ferry crossings between North Sydney, Cape Breton and Newfoundland have been cancelled until midday on Friday. 

Blowing snow forced authorities to shut down the main highway between Truro, N.S., and Moncton, N.B. A 170-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada was closed Wednesday until early Thursday morning. 

Thousands of people across the Maritimes continue to be in the dark Thursday, with more than 16,000 Nova Scotia Power customers without power. Some may be without power until 6:45 p.m. AT.

Many flights were either cancelled or delayed in the region Thursday morning. Traffic was so high on the website for Halifax Stanfield International Airport that only the arrivals and departures information was available. 

Passengers arriving on a flight from Cuba said it took three attempts and a two-hour layover in Montreal to get them safely on the ground in Halifax. One passenger said when the plane finally landed, it was so rough that she thought the tires had exploded.

More snow to come

CBC meteorologist Peter Coade said strong winds are expected to persist across the region Thursday as the centre of the storm continues across Newfoundland.

Coade said a ridge of high pressure will mean fair weather for the region Thursday and part of Friday. After that, another disturbance from the west will bring somewhat milder weather and showers for much of Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and a mix of rain and snow for parts of New Brunswick.

Saturday is expected to be mainly fair weather before another disturbance moves in from the southwest, bringing "significant snowfall amounts" for much of the Maritimes, Coade said. New Brunswick will likely see the worst of the snow Sunday.

Freezing rain is also a risk Sunday for much of the Maritimes, Coade said.

Motel hosts emergency crews

In Shelburne, N.S., about 210 kilometres southwest of Halifax, doctors, nurses and other emergency crews based at the local hospital bunked in at MacKenzie's Motel overnight when the power went out at their houses.

With power off in nearby Lockeport and Port La Tour, the motel was already busier than usual.

Sandra Goodick, who runs the motel with her husband Jim, said the Roseway Hospital and motel have made arrangements in the past to have staff who are scheduled to work stay the night when weather is bad.

"A lot of the people that were here had no power at their homes, so they were just happy to be in a warm, cozy place with heat and light," Goodick said Thursday.

"I think that they felt safe being here because the winds were extremely high last night."

She said it was the first time this winter they had emergency crews and hospital workers book rooms for the night.

"I'm just happy the storm didn't do any more damage than it did," said Goodick. "I'm grateful our power stayed on. so we could serve our customers."