New Brunswick

New Brunswick under 'flash freeze' warning

Environment Canada has issued weather warnings for the entire province of New Brunswick.

Environment Canada predicts rapid temperature drop overnight, heavy rainfall in some areas

Icy conditions caused an eight-car pileup on the Saint John Harbour Bridge on Monday. (CBC)
​Environment Canada has issued a "flash freeze" warning for the entire province of New Brunswick.

A sharp cold front is expected hit Monday night, causing temperatures to plummet well below freezing by Tuesday morning, the weather agency says.

"This rapid drop in temperatures overnight will cause rain and slush from today's precipitation and from mild temperatures and snow melt to rapidly freeze, likely causing very icy conditions in many areas of the province by Tuesday morning," the advisory states.

Rainfall warnings are also in place for much of the province, with up to 25 millimetres expected in the western half of the province and up to 35 millimetres in some areas near the Fundy coast.

The Department of Public Safety's Emergency Measures Organization also issued a flash freeze advisory, noting it could cause poor driving conditions and power outages.

"Travel should be restricted until roads are safe," the advisory states.

Pedestrians are urged to walk with care and to watch for snow and ice that could fall from rooftops.

EMO is also reminding citizens to have an emergency kit with enough supplies to last 72 hours, including food, water, batteries, prescriptions and first-aid supplies.

A freezing rain event earlier in the day resulted in power outages, accidents and cancellations across the province once again.

More power outages expected

The number of NB Power customers without electricity stood at about 800 by about 10:25 p.m., down from about 3,000 in the morning.

The bulk of the remaining outages are in Sussex (664) and Moncton (120). Some outages are also being reported in  Fredericton (16), St. Stephen (7), and Rothesay (7).

The St. Stephen and Rothesay areas were the hardest hit in a pre-Christmas ice storm that saw power outages peak with about 54,000 NB Power customers without service.

Meghan Gerrish of NB Power says the latest outages are the result of the freezing rain Monday and part of the aftermath from the ice storm two weeks ago.

"We can expect to see more outages [in the coming weeks] as ice of the trees melt and trees stand back up, hitting the lines," said Gerrish. 

The additional weight of heavy, wet snow on power lines and tree branches could also cause problems, she said.

Crews from NB Power and contractor crews are continuing to remove branches and trim trees around the lines in areas that were hit the hardest in the pre-Christmas storm, said Gerrish.

It was Jan. 3 before full service was restored to all those who lost electricity in the storm before Christmas.

Roads treacherous

Freezing rain also created treacherous driving conditions in some areas of the province.

A motorist comforts her dog after her vehicle was rear-ended in the eight-car pileup on the Saint John Habour Bridge Monday. (CBC)
​RCMP were warning Highway 7 between Oromocto and Saint John is very slippery. They were advising motorists to slow down and drive with extreme caution.

The Saint John Police Force responded to an eight-car pileup on the Harbour Bridge at about 10 a.m. It occurred at the Market Square off ramp at the eastern end of the bridge.

"The first vehicle came around the corner, lost control, hit the guardrail and went sideways and after that we had seven cars come off the highway and the collision occurred," said Const. Tom Clayton.

"We all forget, right. We see those signs every day — Bridge freezes before road — and you’re on the highway and everything's going well and all of the sudden, you come off the highway, you’re going over an elevation, and all of a sudden, now you’re into ice," he said.

Crews temporarily blocked the offramp until it could be salted.

Rothesay Regional Police were tweeting that Highway 1 westbound near the Dolan Road Irving had "a very large puddle the size of a small lake" and advising motorists to use caution.

Several school closures

Students in French schools in New Brunswick had an extra day tacked on to their Christmas break as schools were cancelled Monday due to weather conditions.

Students in the province's four anglophone school districts were not scheduled to attend classes Monday due to a scheduled professional development day for teachers.

Devon Park Christian School in Fredericton, Sussex Christian School and Valley Christian Academy were also closed.

CBC meteorologist Peter Coade had forecasted very mild air to cover all three Maritime provinces by late Monday afternoon, but with rain developing before temperatures rise above the melting point, resulting in freezing rain.

Coade expected northern New Brunswick to see a period of snow before the freezing rain began.

"In some valleys in any of the provinces, the freezing rain will persist a bit longer because the cold air sits in the valleys and has to be flushed out by the strengthening southeast wind," Coade had said.

Temperatures increased to 10 degrees or higher in parts of New Brunswick by Monday afternoon, with temperatures in the north of the province climbing to the high single digits.