Slow going for power and plow crews as Island cleans up

It was a struggle Thursday to clean up after the season's worst blizzard as plow drivers battled poor visibility and power crews tried to restore electricity to hundreds of customers.
The CBC's Brian Higgins rides on a snowplow with operator Jimmy Rhynes. 3:11

It was a struggle Thursday to clean up after the season's worst blizzard as plow drivers battled poor visibility and power crews tried to restore electricity to hundreds of customers.

Maritime Electric crews were set to work through the night as they tried to restore power to more than 400 Island customers still without electricity Thursday evening.

While the blizzard warning ended at 6:30 a.m., high winds created white out conditions that blew around the more than 50 centimetres of snow that fell since noon Wednesday.

The Confederation Bridge was finally opened to all traffic Thursday evening. The bridge was closed for 12 hours overnight, reopened in the morning for an hour, and then closed again until the afternoon.

Restoring power to the few hundred still without electricity has been slow going. At the height of the storm, 16,000 customers were without power.

Late Thursday afternoon, Maritime Electric said 494 customers remained without power, with scattered outages in central and west P.E.I.

At one point Wednesday night Maritime Electric workers were pulled from the roads after one truck got stuck in the snow on the Blue Shank Road near Summerside.

The crew spent the night uin the truck after two plows failed in attempts to rescue workers.

At about 10 a.m. Thursday the utility decided to test out travel conditions again. 

Transportation officials kept plows off the road through the night due to poor visibility. Provincial plows returned to the highways at about 8 a.m.

"They are out there for a little while to see what's going to happen with them," said Prince County dispatcher  Garth Gallant.

"We're going give it a try. The visibility is the biggest thing there and we don't want them to run into any danger."

Plows were being kept off secondary roads early Thursday afternoon. In Charlottetown most streets had seen a plow, but not all were plowed to full width and many intersections were partially obstructed by piles of snow.

Schools and government offices are closed. Non-emergency procedures at Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital have been cancelled for the day.

The provincial webcam at Bonshaw showed a relatively calm scene at 7 a.m., but no sign of a plow. All provincial plows were off the highways. (Province of P.E.I.)

Snow began falling around noon Wednesday and continued to fall in waves through the day and night. 

At the height of the storm there was a multi-car pile up on the Hillsborough Bridge, which connects Charlottetown to Stratford, and the bridge was subsequently closed down.