Maritimers dig out after wintry blast
Weather warnings for many parts of Maritimes issued by Environment Canada
Many Maritimers were still digging out on Wednesday night after an overnight storm Tuesday brought a heavy mix of snow, ice pellets and rain throughout the region.
Environment Canada has issued weather warnings for much of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
The agency is forecasting as much as 20 centimetres to fall in New Brunswick by Wednesday evening and 15 to 20 cm of snow for parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
The weather agency said a low pressure system in the Gulf of Maine will move northward on Wednesday.
"The snow is expected to taper to flurries this afternoon in the south [of New Brunswick] and in the evening in the north." according to an Environment Canada advisory.
Nova Scotia is expected to receive less snow than New Brunswick, but parts of the South Shore are experiencing ice pellets. Environment Canada is also forecasting winds may gust to 110 kilometres per hour.
What a difference a year makes
The weather on Wednesday, the first day of spring, stood in stark contrast to the same day last year when some New Brunswickers were enjoying a day at Parlee Beach in Shediac.
A record-shattering heat wave saw temperatures reach nearly 30 Celsius that day.
But there was no green grass, birds chirping or other signs of spring in New Brunswick and none expected over the next few days with more snow forecasted for much of the province.
The spring storm forced schools across New Brunswick and Nova Scotia to close because of poor driving conditions.
All schools in New Brunswick were closed on Wednesday because of the storm.
The University of New Brunswick and St. Thomas University in Fredericton announced a delay in opening because of the storm.
In mainland Nova Scotia, many schools were also closed on Wednesday. Halifax’s Dalhousie University, which is known for keeping its doors open, announced it was closed on Wednesday morning.
Meanwhile, Prince Edward Island schools were already closed because of March Break, but Holland College shut down its campuses, and UPEI delayed opening until 10 a.m.
Halifax's Stanfield International Airport was reporting delays and cancellations affecting about half of the arrivals and departures until noon.
Driving conditions are ‘not good’
Before the snowstorm, Halifax sprayed brine on the city streets. And plows were out early on Wednesday trying to clear the streets of snow.
In New Brunswick, the police and highway officials warned that the province’s highways were snow-covered and driving conditions were not good.
RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah said there were about two dozen vehicle accidents in RCMP territory across the province since 5 p.m. AT on Tuesday, including some resulting in minor injuries.
A few of the accidents involved plows, she said. "Motorists were often driving too close and either clipping the side of the plow, or rear-ending the plow."
Ross Mathers, an official with the Maritime Road Development Corp., which clears the Trans-Canada Highway from Fredericton to Moncton, said some parts of the highway have received about 30 cm of snow.
No accidents have been reported, but Mathers said there are white-out conditions, and "driving is not good."
"Our crews are out there plowing and we got people who want to pass the trucks, and they should be staying behind them. Both trucks and cars," said Mathers.
"The safest place is behind the plows. So that we can clear the road for them so that they can get to their places of destination safely."
The driving conditions were similar in western New Brunswick.
Coleen Gorman, a spokeswoman for Brun-Way, the company that maintains the Trans-Canada Highway between Longs Creek and the Quebec border, said the highway was snow-covered and slippery.
She said there was poor visibility because of drifting snow.
"If you do have to get out on the highway, you will want to go slow because you won’t be able to see what is ahead of you," she said.
Slippery road conditions were also being reported in cities across the province.
Dylan Gamble, the manager of streets and roads in Fredericton, said crews were busy clearing the main roads but he said many secondary roads had not been touched.
He advised commuters to take extra time driving.