Massive snowstorm hits N.S.

A massive snowstorm that hit Nova Scotia was expected to bring up to 45 centimetres of snow to some areas of the province.
The region's largest mall was among the businesses and schools that closed early Wednesday afternoon ahead of the worst of the snowstorm. (CBC)

A massive snowstorm that hit Nova Scotia was expected to bring up to 45 centimetres of snow to some areas of the province by Wednesday night.

Snowfall warnings ended at 9:30 p.m. for much of mainland Nova Scotia on Wednesday, but continue for Colchester County, Hants County and Cape Breton.

All evening flights out of Halifax Stanfield International were cancelled. In the Halifax Regional Municipality, school was cancelled for most students, government offices closed early as did universities in Halifax.

The heavy snow, in addition to up to 14 centimetres that fell Tuesday, began over the province's southwest and spread northeast to Cape Breton.

In Bridgewater, about 1,000 customers were without power at 8 p.m. AT.

Most areas were forecast to get 15 to 25 centimetres Wednesday night alone, in addition to 10 to 20 centimetres during the day.  

Snow was forecast to change to rain or freezing rain Wednesday evening over the south shore. Strong northeasterlies were forecast to create local blowing snow.

Snow removal crews were on the job at Halifax airport trying to keep up. Operations Manager Clayton Maynard said while the runways were kept bare, it was ultimately up to the airlines to decide if they wanted to use them. He said many chose to sit out the worst of the storm and deal with the backlog later.

"After the last flake the airport is ready to go. It's usually ready to go all during the storm, We've never closed here fortunately. We have a well-experienced crew, good equipment and a mandate to make sure aircraft can get off the ground and back on safely," said Maynard.

Ashley Barnes with the Halifax International Airport Authority said they were prepared to house stranded passengers.

"We have necessities on standby here. So things like sleep mats and bottles of water, baby food, things like that. So, if it is a situation where we have lots of people camped out at the airport, you know we have things to help them," said Barnes.

RCMP were busy responding to accidents, including a two-vehicle head-on collision on Highway 107 in the Lake Echo area, that reduced the route to one lane. They were encouraging drivers to stay off the main roads due to treacherous conditions, even those in heavy-duty vehicles.

The region's largest shopping mall, Mic Mac Mall, in Dartmouth closed at 1 p.m.

Shoppers like Andrea Lysiuk weren't impressed.

"I think it's ridiculous — we live in Canada," said Lysiuk. "What else is there to do in a snowstorm?"

Some students took full advantage of the snow day and headed to Halifax's Citadel Hill for some sledding. (CBC)

Many students, including Saint Mary's University student Ainslie MacAdam, took advantage of the snow day and headed to Citadel Hill in downtown Halifax, sleds in hand.

"I'd be writing a mid-term right now. This is so much better, so much fun," said MacAdam.

Volunteers at a Cape Breton ski hill were also welcoming the snow.

Ski Cape Smokey planned to open Friday morning after being closed the last four years.

Larry Dauphinee, chair of the Ski Cape Smokey Society, said snowfall in recent days would be enough to open.

"We were waiting on getting our lift inspected and ... everything passed with flying colours and we're going to be opening Friday morning at 9 o'clock," said Dauphinee.

"We're pretty excited. We've still got some things we've got to work on ... but we'll be up and skiing this weekend."