School power outages, slippery driving and another storm on the way

At least 20 Halifax-area schools lost power Thursday morning, and thousands of homes and businesses had no electricity. A second storm is on its way and could bring more than 15 centimetres of snow to parts of Nova Scotia.

Nor'easter came through Nova Scotia Thursday, low-pressure system expected Friday

At least four school buses went off the road in the area of Hammonds Plains Road. This bus was spotted on St. George Boulevard. (Paul Poirier/CBC)

The first of two winter storms expected this week brought a mix of rain, wind and snow to Nova Scotia on Thursday, a mess of weather that temporarily knocked out power to at least 20 Halifax-area schools and created slippery roads.

The second storm of the week is expected to develop off the Atlantic coast on Friday morning. As it moves back over land, it will bring with it the possibility of significant snowfall.

Environment Canada issued winter storm watches for parts of Cape Breton and the northern mainland. It said more than 15 centimetres of snow and strong winds are expected in those areas Friday night and Saturday. It urged people not to drive and said there could be near-zero visibility.

A Les Suêtes wind warning was also in place for Inverness County, with gusts up to 100 km/h forecast to develop Thursday evening and then diminish early Friday morning.

Two school buses slid off the road near Sir John A. Macdonald High School in Tantallon. (Submitted by Heather Spidell)

The slippery conditions on Thursday morning led to a number of crashes throughout the Halifax region, including at least four accidents involving school buses.

Two buses went off Hammonds Plains Road near Sir John A. Macdonald High School. Two more also went off the road nearby, one on Buckingham Drive in the Stillwater Lake subdivision and another on St. George Boulevard.

When faced with inclement weather, school-bus company Stock Transportation said in a statement it begins assessing forecasts and road conditions before 5 a.m.

"Based on these reports and keeping the safety of our students first, we made the decision to proceed with caution," said Stock CEO Terri Lowe. "Weather conditions changed, and the roads became icy."

Corvin Vincent was on his way from Fort McMurray, Alta., back to his home in Newfoundland and Labrador when his trip came to an abrupt stop in Halifax. High winds cancelled his flight to Deer Lake, N.L., (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

The high winds and snow that came with the nor'easter skimming the province also knocked out power to thousands of Nova Scotia Power customers. As of Thursday evening, several thousand were without power, largely in the Halifax and Dartmouth area.

At least 20 Halifax-area schools lost power, and 10 that remained without electricity were closed. The Halifax Regional School Board started to dismiss children around 11:15 a.m.

At the height of the power outage more than 30,000 homes and businesses had no electricity. 

High winds caused several trees and branches to fall onto power lines, according to Tiffany Chase, a spokesperson with Nova Scotia Power. She said there was also a larger power outage Thursday morning in the Rockingham neighbourhood of Halifax after a vehicle accident "took out a pole."

The said there were "very gusty winds" in some areas, which meant sites had to be assessed to make sure it was safe for crews to being repairs.

Up to 15 centimetres of snow is expected in Cape Breton, and along the Atlantic coastline to Liverpool on Thursday. (Chris O'Neill-Yates/CBC)

All schools in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board were closed and the Strait Regional School Board dismissed students at 11 a.m.

The weather forced Halifax's Stanfield International Airport to cancel many flights in and out of the airport.

Genevieve Dube was on her way to Ottawa Thursday morning but her flight was cancelled. The Gatineau, Que., native said the cancellation is a big hassle. 

"I have something tomorrow I have to drive to Montreal and it's a huge change in my plans. I have to cancel some appointments and stuff like that," she said. 

(Kalin Mitchell/CBC)

Corvin Vincent was also stuck waiting for a new flight. He was among a crew of workers heading home to Newfoundland and Labrador from Fort McMurray, Alta.

"We can't get our final leg home and we might be stuck here for a couple of days. It's frustrating and it's hard to take when you've been away for two weeks," he said.

With files from Kalin Mitchell