Snowstorm creates slippery roads for drivers across province

Motorists are being advised to drive with caution as a major snowstorm causes slippery road conditions across the province.

New Brunswick can expect 15 to 25 cm of snow, Environment Canada says

Slippery road conditions force traffic to back up in Saint John on Friday. (CBC)

Motorists are being advised to drive with caution as a major snowstorm causes slippery roads across the province.

Saint John police asked drivers to stay off the roads "unless it is absolutely necessary" and said some roads have already been closed.

Fredericton drivers were advised to give themselves extra time and extra space between vehicles.

Generally, slow down and pay lots of attention.-  Mike Walker, manager of roadway operations in Fredericton

"Just really drive for the conditions that are out there," said Mike Walker, manager of roadway operations in Fredericton.

"It is officially winter, it's time to change those summer driving habits into winter driving habits."  

Here are some storm numbers to keep in mind before getting in your car today. 0:33

Walker said city crews have been putting salt on roads since the snow started falling Friday morning, and they will be out until the storm ends during the night.

"Generally, slow down and pay lots of attention," he said.

"The goal is to keep them open for the entire length of the storm and keep them as safe as we can," he said. 

Peter Fenety, area manager for MRDC, which manages the Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton, described the afternoon road conditions as a combination of slush and snow.

"It's pretty consistent all the way through the highway," he said.

Fenety said he hasn't noticed any crashes along the highway and that drivers are keeping their speed down.

"We certainly haven't had the snow that we anticipated we would get," he said.

Snow and ice

Motorists have been advised to drive cautiously for the road conditions. (CBC)

Environment Canada issued a special weather warning for most of the province, forecasting 15 and 25 centimetres of snow, which could mix with ice pellets Friday afternoon.

Strong wind gusts of up to 50 kilometres an hour are also expected throughout the day.

Jill Maepea, a warning preparedness meteorologist for Environment Canada in Fredericton, said the storm approached the province from the southwest.

Snow was turning to ice in Fredericton on Friday afternoon. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

She said rapidly accumulating snow could make travel difficult in some areas and visibility could be reduced in heavy snow.

A special weather statement is also in effect for Edmundston, Madawaska County,  Campbellton, the western half of Restigouche County, Grand Falls, Victoria County, Saint John, Grand Manan and Charlotte County. 

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Environment Canada said wintry weather is expected in those areas as well, but snowfall amounts should remain under 15 cm.

Several schools did not open Friday because of the storm. 

All schools in the Anglophone East, Anglophone North, Anglophone South School Districts, as well as the Francophone South District were closed. Most schools in the Anglophone West School District were also closed, with the exception of schools in Edmundston. 

Classes at the New Brunswick Community College in Woodstock and Saint Andrews were also cancelled for the day. 

Colder temperatures

Snowplows hit the streets in Saint John. (CBC)

Maepea said temperatures have been below normal over the past few weeks in New Brunswick.

This time of year, she said temperatures range between 4 C and –4 C. But over the next few days, the province can expect to see highs of 0 C and an average low of –8 C.

"This pattern can develop anywhere between November and April, where we just get in a position where we're in a storm track," she said.

Snow forced police to close some streets in Saint John, where drivers were asked to stay off the roads if possible. (Peter Anawati/CBC)

"It often keeps pulling down cold air from the north and we also have this nice warm moist flow from the southwest … it keeps our temperatures below normal."

But she said the cold air should pass relatively soon.

"The tricky part is always determining when it will move out of the area."

Living without power

About 4,000 NB Power customers were without electricity when the storm moved into the province but almost all had it back by early afternoon. (Shane Fowler/CBC )

Even before the first flakes Friday, close to 4,000 NB Power customers were without electricity. By early afternoon, the number had dropped to just under 30.

As many as 19,000 NB Power customers lost electricity Wednesday when strong winds hit the province.

The outages came less than two weeks after a major wind storm whipped through New Brunswick, causing about 100,000 customers to lose power. Some customers waited more than five days before their power was restored.

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