New Brunswickers urged to heed advice of local officials as storm cleanup continues
Travel advisories remain in place, power outages linger
New Brunswick residents are being urged to heed the advice of local officials as storm cleanup efforts continue Monday, following Sunday's winter wallop.
As much as 50 centimetres of snow fell in northern New Brunswick, while close to 100 millimetres of rain was reported in some southern parts of the province, according to Environment Canada.
The storm pummelled the province, creating treacherous driving conditions and knocking out power to thousands of NB Power customers.
It forced the closure of all schools, along with many government offices and businesses, and wreaked havoc on air travel with numerous flights cancelled.
Environment Canada has lifted the flash freeze warnings for New Brunswick, but northern regions are still advised to prepare for an increase in water levels.
"Higher than normal water levels are expected this afternoon for coastal regions from Campbellton to Miramichi. There may also be ice rafting and pile up near the coast."
Although some roadways have opened since the winter storm first hit Sunday, travel is still not recommended along some municipal streets and highways, including the Trans-Canada Highway between Fredericton and Moncton, due to snow-packed, icy or flooded conditions.
It may take crews a couple of days to completely clean and clear some provincial highways, the Department of Transportation advised.
"The department asks for continued patience and caution while traveling over the next 48 hours."
With a storm system continuing to move eastward, it seems no respite is in sight. CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said the province could expect ice pellets, freezing rain, light snow and cooler temperatures throughout the day.
"Cold air is moving in behind the system and temperatures will drop," she said.
Most areas hovered around –13 C, but Simpkin said temperatures would continue to dip, making surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots icy, slippery and hazardous.
So far, Simpkin said, snowfall totals have varied across the province before changing over to rain and ice pellets.
Although some areas saw heavy snowfall that would've amounted to 50 cm, a mix of rain and ice pellets meant total accumulation was about 35 cm.
Here are some of the snowfall totals across the province on Monday:
- Miramichi: 27 cm
- Bathurst: 20 cm
- Edmundston: 22 cm
- Fredericton: 10-15 cm followed by ice pellets and freezing rain
- Moncton: 5 cm, freezing rain and ice pellets
Saint John hard hit
The Saint John Police Force was responding to emergency only calls overnight and is still advising people to stay off the roads, with many abandoned vehicles across the city.
Saint John Transit service remained suspended Monday after buses were pulled off the roads Sunday due to poor driving conditions.
Citizens are urged to call 911 for emergencies only. The 911 communications centre is receiving a high volume of calls for non-emergency matters, officials said.
Road and sidewalk conditions are extremely icy and there are a number of abandoned vehicles across the City. Motorists are asked to stay off the roads if possible, and avoid all flooded areas.<br>Crews are working to salt/sand priority 1 streets and will work in sequence from there.—@cityofsaintjohn
Streets are very icy and slippery, said the city's commissioner of transportation and environment services Mike Hugenholtz.
Foster Thurston remains closed to all traffic from Ashburn Road to Sandy Point Road.
Crews are out in full force putting down abrasive material and salt, he said, but it will be a while before conditions are good for driving.
Laces up for Timmies trip
Cory Hamilton of west Saint John didn't let the icy streets in his neighbourhood keep him from his morning coffee.
He laced up his skates to head to the nearby Tim Hortons. He skated up Ludlow Street, then turned around and glided back down.
His fiancée, Erica Sanderson, captured his trip on video. "Who's scared of a little flash freeze?? Not this guy LOL welcome to Canada!!!!" she posted on Facebook shortly after 10 a.m.
Within hours, the video had gone viral with more than 4,000 shares and they had secured a contract for licensing and usage rights.
"True Canadian right there," commented Brandi Leigh Saunders.
Blocked basins flood streets
Several people were forced to abandon their vehicles, either due to ice on the streets or localized flooding, according to city officials.
Low-lying areas across the city were flooded Sunday when rain overwhelmed catch basins that were covered with snow and ice, said Hugenholtz.
An overnight parking ban was issued, but no tickets were issued and no one was towed because not everyone was able to get off the road safely, he said.
"So the last thing our crews need right now is for more cars to go out and end up stuck on some of our main streets or have more abandoned cars."
Another overnight parking ban has been declared for the south-central peninsula. Any vehicles left parked on the street between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m. will be ticketed and/or towed at the owner's risk and expense, city officials warned.
Plow crews need to be able to clear the streets to maintain access for emergency and private vehicles.
Crews are doing their best to clear the sidewalks, but plows and blowers can't cut through the thick ice. It will take "several days if not longer," the city posted on Twitter.
"There is a chance that Mother Nature may help or hinder the situation as a new weather system approaches our region on Thursday with more rain."
Don Morehouse, Moncton's director of public works, said there was a "high degree" of flooding in the city Sunday evening.
Crews worked hard all night long, but as of Monday morning, there are still some flooded areas. They include Vaughn Harvey Boulevard above St. George Street, Assumption Boulevard, Lewisville Road and many intersections on Mountain Road, including the High Street area.
Some residents like Ian Hubbard decided to take matters into their own hands, trying to break up the ice buildup.
"I'm just working as best I can to find the storm drain, so that our swimming pool in the street drains," he said. "It's like a clogged up bathtub."
"It's the weather in the Maritimes," said Sylvain Mancuso. "We can't fight against that. Just clean and shovel, that's all."
Morehouse said trucks may be able to drive through the water, but he recommends cars take a detour.
"We had people that were reaching out to us … they basically got themselves into situations," said Morehouse. "They thought they could get through the water but they couldn't. So they had to get some tow trucks out to try to get those people moved. That's dying down, but there were a number of those locations."
Most roads in the city remain snow-packed, said Morehouse. He expects the cleanup will take a few days.
Good Samaritans were helping push vehicles that were getting stuck at the corner of Elmwood and Donald streets.
'Don't go on the road'
In Fredericton, Mike Walker, manager of roadway operations for the city, said motorists could expect to see snow-covered roads and ice pellets on their morning commute, and sidewalks will take longer to clear.
He said Fredericton Transit is operating, but passengers should expect delays.
"Slow down and give yourself extra time it was a big storm," he said.
Due to vehicles being parked in no parking-zones on Dunn's Crossing and Biggs Street, impeding traffic, buses will temporarily be unable to service the area. Instead, Routes 10N and 11S will travel Wilsey/Kimble to Forest Hill and Lincoln.
Transit passengers are advised to use caution when boarding at Kings Place. Due to snow clearing, buses are parking in order of arrival; not at their assigned spaces, officials said.
Bob and Jennifer Butler, who recently relocated to Fredericton, weren't sure what to expect in terms of snow.
"In Bathurst, we had a machine that blew out our snow," he said, while digging out Monday. "There's a snowblower on the Christmas list for next year."
Drivers looking to travel across the province are being warned to take take it slow, if they must head out.
Al Giberson, the general manager of MRDC Operations Corporation, said the highway between Fredericton and Moncton is covered with snow, ice and freezing rain.
"Don't go on the road unless you absolutely have to," he said.
"If you have to drive, go slow."
Route 108 from Renous to Plaster Rock is closed to the public.
Highway 85 is now open at the Quebec border to Rivière-du-Loup. Route 180 from the Caribou Mines area to St. Quentin has also reopened, but travel is still not recommended.
Travel is also not recommended on the Trans-Canada Highway from Longs Creek to the Quebec border and Route 95 from Woodstock to the U.S. border. Roads are snow covered with icy patches and blowing snow.
"If you can delay travel please do so," said Julia Arseneault, a spokesperson for SNC Lavalin, which manages the highway in that area.
"We're looking still at snow-covered roads, lots of icy patches and some drifting snow. Localized visibility in some areas is going to be greatly reduced with some of that drifting still happening in those high winds."
If travel can't be avoided, RCMP Sgt. Chantal Farrah is advising motorists to allow extra time.
"Don't drive for posted [speed limits] because those are for ideal road conditions and we know that that's not the case today," she said.
People should also take the time to thoroughly clear any snow or ice from their windshields and mirrors to allow 360-degree visibility and from their front and rear lights, said Farrah.
"We don't want to see any rolling igloos out there," she said. "You want to be visible on the highways."
Power outages a problem
Meanwhile, NB Power is reporting 93 customers without power as of 7:30 p.m., down from a peak of about 6,700 Sunday night. The remaining outages are in Queens and Kings counties.
Marc Belliveau, a spokesperson for NB Power, said freezing rain caused trees and branches to make contact with power lines
Bad road conditions hampered restoration efforts, making it difficult for crews to access some areas, he said.
But the utility hopes to have most affected homes and businesses back online by 11 p.m.
With files from Gabrielle Fahmy and Catherine Harrop