Storm closes Confederation Bridge, ferries

High winds, snow and rain are pounding the Maritimes, knocking out power, closing schools, stopping ferries and shutting down the Confederation Bridge for two hours.

Closure is 8th since bridge between New Brunswick and P.E.I. opened

High winds, snow and rain pounded the Maritimes on Monday, knocking out power, closing schools, stopping ferries and shutting down the Confederation Bridge.

The bridge between P.E.I. and New Brunswick — which remained open during tropical storm Earl — was closed to all vehicles for a little more than two hours Monday.

 High-sided vehicles such as transport trucks were still barred from the bridge as of 1:20 p.m. AT.

Cars wait for Confederation Bridge to reopen Monday. ((John Jeffery/CBC))

Environment Canada issued a storm surge warning for Prince County in P.E.I. and the Eastern Shore of Nova Scotia.

Doug Mercer, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, urged people near the water to use caution since tides will be higher than usual.

"Tides are going to be peaking sometime this afternoon for most of that region," Mercer said. "You guys are supposed to be getting about 60 or 70 centimetres of surge on top of the tides. The water levels are going to be high and we're really most worried about the waves on top of the surge."

Marine Atlantic ferries Atlantic Vision and Leif Ericson were staying in North Sydney, N.S., while the Smallwood was staying in Port aux Basques, N.L.

Ferry service between P.E.I. and Nova Scotia was also suspended. Both Halifax harbour ferries were stopped, but they resumed service around 10:30 a.m. There are delays and cancellations at Charlottetown's airport.

The causeway at Fisherman's Reserve near Halifax was covered in debris from the storm.

Winds gusting to 145 km/h forced officials to close the Confederation Bridge to all traffic. The last closure was January 2009.  Since the bridge opened in 1997, it has closed eight times. The longest closure was 12 hours, for the blizzard known as White Juan in the winter of 2004.

Thousands without electricity

Nova Scotia Power reported more than 27,000 customers had lost electricity across the province. Most had it back by mid-afternoon. NB Power reported 2,433 outages, and P.E.I. had 1,900, mostly in the Rattenbury Road area.

High winds blew down the sign at Gass's General Store in New Haven, just west of Charlottetown. ((Donna Allen/CBC))

In Nova Scotia, there were reports of submerged lawns and flooded basements around Musquodoboit Harbour. Large rocks and live wires were blown onto roads in Lawrencetown and Cow Bay near Halifax.

A wind warning was in effect in Cape Breton, with gusts up to 90 km/h across most of the island and 120 km/h from Margaree Harbour to Bay St. Lawrence.

The forecast called for up to 20 millimetres of rain in Cape Breton on Monday.

In New Brunswick, several school districts were closed because of overnight snow and slippery roads. Environment Canada is forecasting a snowfall of 15 centimetres in many areas of the province, with up to 25 centimetres in areas between Woodstock and Sussex.