Winter storm in Maritimes forces school closures, knocks out power to thousands
Several minor road accidents reported in Cape Breton as travellers face hazardous conditions
Much of the Maritimes was under winter storm warnings on Tuesday, with a snowstorm forcing the closure of schools in parts of Nova Scotia and P.E.I. and thousands of homes and businesses without power, mostly on Cape Breton Island.
Travellers are being warned of treacherous conditions in eastern Nova Scotia. The forecast called for up to 40 centimetres of snow, along with winds gusting at up to 100 km/h. By afternoon, the snow had changed to rain.
CBC News meteorologist Tina Simpkin says the storm began overnight on Cape Breton, with 15 centimetres already down by sunrise in some places.
"It is blowing snow, so this is not going to be fun," she said.
Up to 40 millimetres of rain could fall on parts of the island, raising the possibility of flooding, according to Environment Canada.
A number of schools and some government offices were closed across Nova Scotia. Meanwhile, Transit Cape Breton is not operating due to poor road conditions, and ferries to and from Sydney, N.S., were cancelled for the day.
'Lucky there weren't more accidents'
There were several minor road accidents as a results of the storm, but no major ones so far, Cape Breton Regional Police said.
Insp. Bill Turner said driving was difficult as the moisture-laden snow became compacted on the roads, in some places leaving icy ruts.
"I can honestly say I've never seen the Sydney-Glace Bay highway as bad as it was today," Turner said. "We're probably lucky there weren't more accidents."
Nova Scotia Power's outage map showed about 13,000 customers without power as of late Tuesday evening, including about 11,500 in Cape Breton.
Up to 30 cm of snow in P.E.I.
In P.E.I., the storm started in Kings County in the east but has since spread across the province. Up to 30 centimetres of snow was expected.
"Snow continues to push west through the afternoon and evening, with a gusty 50 to 80 km/h northwest wind, gusts topping 90 km/h possible for exposed/coastal areas," said CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland.
"Road conditions will deteriorate during this afternoon and evening, with blowing and drifting snow, and I can't rule out potential local outages as well due to high wind."
As of late Tuesday evening, about 500 Maritime Electric customers were without power, according to the utility's outage map.
Make sure your phone has a good charge folks! Snow (mixing with rain for some areas overnight), combined with a gusty wind is not a good combo for branches and power lines. Local outages are possible.—@JayScotland
The storm is expected to continue through the night and taper off around dawn, with the possibility of ice pellets, freezing rain and rain.
Higher than normal tides could also come with the storm, Environment Canada said in its associated special weather statements.
The Public Schools Branch staggered school closures and cancelled all after-school, student-related activities, while the University of Prince Edward Island closed early.
Northumberland Ferries cancelled all sailings for Tuesday, while Confederation Bridge, which connects the island to New Brunswick, restricted certain classes of vehicles from crossing because of high winds. At least three flights have been cancelled at the Charlottetown airport.
A more extensive list of closures can be found here.
Snow to mix with rain in N.B. overnight
Meanwhile, northern, eastern and some central areas of New Brunswick will see snowfalls of up to 25 centimetres in some regions from Tuesday afternoon and continuing Wednesday.
Environment Canada is warning of "hazardous winter conditions" with those areas also expecting winds up to 90 to 100 km/h. Snow is expected to become heavy by Tuesday evening and mix with rain overnight.
This is what we have to look forward to, SE/NE New Brunswick! <a href="https://t.co/wHeNOvkZIQ">https://t.co/wHeNOvkZIQ</a>—@JonnaBrewerCBC
Residents in areas with winter storm warnings in place are being advised to postpone non-essential travel as "visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow."
Other regions of the province are under snowfall warnings, with 15 to 20 cm of snow expected, beginning Tuesday evening until Wednesday at noon.
Elsewhere in Atlantic Canada, many parts of Newfoundland are under rainfall and wind warnings, with heavy rain and strong winds expected.
Some northwestern regions of the province including Gros Morne could also see 15 to 40 centimetres — or higher — of snow, according to Environment Canada.
With files from The Canadian Press and Kevin Yarr