The RCMP asked drivers to stay off the roads on P.E.I. unless travel was absolutely necessary, as a winter storm rolled over the Island Wednesday.

The storm, which started as rain but turned to snow across most of the province, shut down schools and provincial government offices. UPEI rescheduled all exams for the day, and Holland College cancelled classes. Several flights were also cancelled. 

Most roads west of Charlottetown were covered in snow by 8 a.m. Winds were blowing at 40 km/h gusting to 70 km/h. Those winds were causing problems as well.

Mid-afternoon as many as 13,000 customers were without electricity. By 4:15 p.m. that was reduced to 9,700 customers.

But Kim Griffin, a spokesperson for Maritime Electric, said crews would restore power in one area, only to have the lights go out somewhere else. 

Fortune Cove storm

By daybreak there was lots of snow down in Fortune Cove, on the Mill River in western P.E.I. (Jo-anne Wallace)

"It seems throughout the day we've had multiple communities off and on in some areas - Central and Eastern P.E.I.," said Griffin. "It's been a real challenge now that there is a bit of snow down and that is on our lines and on the trees, and the trees have been coming down on our lines all day today."

Crews are expected to work until midnight to restore power, but Griffin warned that some people may face outages through the night. 

The wind also forced Confederation Bridge to restrict high-sided vehicles from crossing. Those restrictions were put in place at 1:55 a.m. Northumberland Ferries cancelled its service for the day.