Parts of Atlantic Canada pummelled by blizzard as travel warnings remain

A blizzard that pounded much of Atlantic Canada on Monday is finally starting to slow down, even as emergency officials continue to warn many New Brunswick drivers to stay off the roads.

Blizzard hitting Atlantic Canada called 'potentially life–threatening'

It's a blizzard and much of Fredericton appears shuttered Monday. That said palliative care physician Dr. Debbie Gowan made her way in to see her patients on foot. 1:00

A blizzard that pounded much of Atlantic Canada on Monday is finally starting to slow down, even as emergency officials continue to warn many New Brunswick drivers to stay off the roads.

CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell said the heavy band of snow that has sat across much of the region is finally starting to weaken.

"As we continue through this evening, western parts of [New Brunswick] are going to see the snow begin to taper off. Not completely come to an end right way, but begin to ease, turning over to lighter snow and eventually into flurries as we move through tonight," he said.

However, the snow will continue in parts of eastern New Brunswick on Tuesday morning.

Mitchell estimated some communities between Fredericton and Saint John could see as much as 80 centimetres of snow by the end of the storm.

The blizzard battering Atlantic Canada was mentioned by Prime Minister Justin Trudeau during his meeting with U.S. President Donald Trump in Washington on Monday.

"We are suffering under a significant snowstorm that's hitting our Atlantic provinces particularly harsh, so I just want to send everyone back at home my thoughts as they shovel out and impress on everyone to stay safe," Trudeau said.

Situation in Nova Scotia

Nova Scotia is also at a standstill, with schools, businesses, offices, transit services and some health-care services shut down. ​Some areas of the province could see winds reaching 110 km/h.

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      Environment Canada said the rest of the province, including Cape Breton, could get 30 to 50 centimetres by Tuesday morning.

      The weather agency has put a blizzard warning in place for the entire province. Several coastal areas also have storm-surge warnings, where high tide combined with high winds could cause localized flooding.

      In Prince Edward Island, schools closed ahead of the storm.

      Newfoundland and Labrador is bracing for a storm that could start on Tuesday.

      Difficult conditions

      Most school districts in New Brunswick have cancelled classes, so if you're hearty there's snow day fun to be had. That said, good luck getting where you need to go. 0:40

      The powerful storm has prompted the New Brunswick government to take the unusual step of restricting travel on public roads in the province's southern and central regions.

      "Until further notice, travel on provincial highways and roads is restricted to emergency vehicles and crews from the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure," the provincial government said.

      The Trans-Canada Highway is closed between Sackville and the Nova Scotia border until further notice because of poor visibility caused by high winds and blowing snow, according to the Department of Transportation and Infrastructure.

      As well, snowplowing on other sections of Routes 1 and 2 has been suspended until conditions improve.

      'Life-threatening blizzard'

      A blizzard hitting much of Atlantic Canada is causing problems for drivers. As much as 80 centimetres of snow is expected to fall in parts of New Brunswick. (CBC)
      The blizzard forced most public schools in New Brunswick to close Monday.

      ​The University of New Brunswick, St. Thomas University, Mount Allison University and the University of Moncton were all closed.

      Codiac Transpo, in the Moncton area, as well as Saint John Transit and Fredericton Transit weren't operating.

      Brennan Allen, another CBC meteorologist, said people should avoid going near shorelines during the evening and overnight as coastal flooding and damage is possible.

      "In summary, this will be a dangerous and potentially life-threatening blizzard," he said.

      Mike Walker, manager of roadway operations for Fredericton, said conditions deteriorated quickly in the provincial capital on Monday. "Snow is picking up and the wind is blowing it around, making it difficult to see," he said.

      The slippery road conditions Monday caused some accidents on New Brunswick roads. (CBC)

      Allen said powerful winds are adding to the problems around the province.

      "Winds out of the northeast will be sustained between 40 and 60 km/h with gusts between 80 and 100 km/h from central New Brunswick southeastward."

      Travelling will be dangerous and likely impossible by car in the afternoon to evening hours.- Brennan Allen, CBC meteorologist

      Allen said coastal areas of Nova Scotia could experience hurricane force wind gusts of up to 120 km/h.

      "Travelling will be dangerous and likely impossible by car in the afternoon to evening hours," he said, with snowfall amounts of between 30 and 55 centimetres expected.

      The number of power outages is also starting to climb across the province.

      As of 6:15 p.m. AT, NB Power indicated there were more than 1,000 customers without power. The majority of those outages were reported in Charlotte County in the southwest. 

      "We continue to closely monitor the storm system as it unfolds and respond to outages when it is safe to do so," said Marie-Andrée Bolduc, spokesperson for NB Power.

      "The main areas of concerns are high winds that could cause trees to make contact with the lines or lines to slap together."

      Canada Post has stopped delivery services in southern New Brunswick.

      "In light of the severe weather conditions and heavy snow in southern New Brunswick, notably Saint John, Fredericton and Moncton, it is not safe to send our delivery agents to deliver mail today," said Canada Post spokesperson Phil Legault.

      "Delivery will resume once conditions improve and it is safe to do so. Post offices will also be closed in this region."

      Felicia Murphy, of Brun-Way Highway Operations, which maintains the Trans-Canada Highway between Longs Creek and the Quebec border, and the highway from Woodstock to Houlton, Maine, said roads are slippery. 

      Snow is drifting heavily, creating low visibility. She said if conditions continue to deteriorate, Brun-Way will pull operators off the roads.

      "It's not a good day to drive today."

      New Brunswick RCMP Sgt. Chantal Farrah said if you have to travel, drivers should tell family members or friends the route they will be on and how long it will take to get to their final destination.

      In these types of conditions, she said drivers should also put on their four-way flashers when driving slower than the speed limit, so other drivers can see them.

      Flights cancelled

      Many flights are being cancelled or delayed at the Moncton and Saint John airports. (CBC)

      As of 3 p.m. AT, flights at airports across the region were cancelled.

      Flights out of the Stanfield International Airport in Halifax are cancelled until Tuesday. In New Brunswick, passengers are being told to check flights before heading to the airport.

      All flights in Fredericton, Moncton and Saint John that were scheduled for Monday have been cancelled. Some Tuesday flights have also been cancelled.

      The storm will move out of southwestern regions late in the overnight hours, but is expected to persist into Tuesday for the eastern half of Nova Scotia, southeastern New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island, according to Allen.

      "Snow will taper to flurries later in the day on Tuesday, however, blowing snow could persist into Wednesday for most eastern regions of the Maritimes," Allen said.

      A "dangerous and potentially life–threatening blizzard" is pounding much of New Brunswick including Uptown Saint John. 0:46

      Northeast New Brunswick will escape this storm with accumulations of about 15 centimetres.

      Allen warns that another storm may move into the Maritimes on Thursday.

      Latest storm to hit N.B.

      Drivers in New Brunswick are being advised to stay off the roads. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)
      Monday's storm was the latest major weather pattern to pound New Brunswick in recent weeks.

      In late January, an ice storm hit New Brunswick and caused more than 200,000 power outages, leaving some people in the Acadian Peninsula without electricity for nearly two weeks.

      Two deaths and roughly 40 hospitalizations were also linked to that storm because of carbon-monoxide poisoning.

      The Canadian Armed Forces were dispatched to northeastern New Brunswick to help with the cleanup efforts.

      New Brunswick Premier Brian Gallant has ordered a report into the power outages.

      With files from Vanessa Blanch