Nova Scotia winter storm leaves thousands without power

Heavy snowfall has left about thousands of Nova Scotia power customers still without electricity and the utility estimates it could be around midnight before many people in the northern part of the province will see their lights back on.

About 30,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without power as of 1:30 p.m. Saturday

Heavy snowfall has left thousands of people without electricity and Nova Scotia Power estimates it could take until midday Sunday before crews are able to restore electricity to some homes, many of which have been in the dark since Friday evening. 

About 20,800 customers were waiting for electricity to be restored at 4 p.m. AT Saturday. The outages affect about 16 communities and range from Windsor to Sheet Harbour, Antigonish and much of Cape Breton.

The Department of Transportation is working to clear roads and highways but many vehicles aren't going anywhere. (Steve Berry/CBC)

Early Saturday morning about 52,000 customers were without power.

Nova Scotia Power says the nor'easter's impact continues to interfere with crews' ability to repair power lines. 

Spokeswoman Beverley Ware says crews worked through the night and were able to restore power to about 15,000 customers, but new outages cropped up as heavy snow weighed down power lines. 

She says at the peak of the outage, 67,000 homes and businesses were cut off.

Wet, heavy snow cut power to many parts of the province Friday night and crews are still trying to restore electricity in about two dozen communities. (Andrew Mitton/Twitter)

"In many cases, these crews are dealing with very treacherous driving conditions. The challenge is also deep snow, which means it's taking time for them to access some of these sites," she said. "It's going to be a long day."

While some areas had power restored by noon Saturday, service to parts of Guysborough isn't expected to return until 7 a.m. on Sunday, which would leave people without electricity for a second night. 

There are still thousands of people without power in Sydney and it's expected to take until noon Sunday to restore service to Mabou.

Road clearing underway

The Department of Transportation says crews are working to clear and salt roads, some of which received as much as 30 centimetres of snow. 

It is advising that the main roads in Cape Breton are still covered in snow and visibility is poor but most 100 series highways are clear. 

The heaviest hit areas were along the northern coast and Cape Breton. Snowfall totalled 32 centimetres in Ingonish and 34 centimetres in Antigonish County, according to Environment Canada. 

About 11 centimetres fell in Dartmouth and 22 centimetres at the Halifax airport. 

There were winds gusting around 50 km/h across the province and Environment Canada says winds hit 96 km/h at the Sydney airport. 

Ware says crews were coming from New Brunswick Saturday to assist with the restoration work in some of the hardest-hit areas. 

She says estimated restoration times are based on current weather conditions and once crews are able to evaluate the extent of damage, they may update the times.

Environment Canada says light snow will continue Saturday on the mainland with light winds and a mix of sun and cloud. 

In Cape Breton, snow and blowing snow are expected to continue until noon with winds gusting to 70 km/h this morning. 

In the storm's aftermath, many arrivals and departures at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport are cancelled or delayed.  

The morning Marine Atlantic sailings between North Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L., were cancelled. Boats are scheduled to leave from both sides Saturday night.

The poor weather forced crews to cancel work planned for the Angus L. Macdonald Bridge between Dartmouth and Halifax. It will now remain open all weekend.


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