New Brunswick

Snowstorm slams the Maritimes

The first big snowfall of the season is wreaking havoc on the Maritimes, with treacherous driving conditions, cancelled flights, power outages and a growing number of school closures and rescheduled events.

Causes accidents, cancellations, power outages, closures

Saint John police have been busy responding to reports of collisions and vehicles off the road. (Sarah Konsmo/CBC)

The first big snowfall of the season is wreaking havoc on the Maritimes, with treacherous driving conditions, cancelled flights, power outages and a growing number of school closures and rescheduled events.

In Halifax, HRM's website said approximately 15 centimetres had already fallen by 4 p.m. Wednesday, with another 15 to 20 centimetres expected by midnight.

Police are warning motorists to drive carefully with a mix of heavy rain and snow descending on the region.

In Nova Scotia, a section of the Trans-Canada Highway has been blocked to eastbound traffic after a tractor-trailer jack-knifed near Truro.

Halifax-area police responded to about 30 calls involving collisions or vehicles off the road in a 90-minute period Wednesday morning. No serious injuries have been reported.

By 3:45 p.m., Cst. Brian Palmeter said that number climbed to at least 60 crashes.

A truck picks up a load of salt at the main transportation depot in Dartmouth early Wednesday. (Phonse Jessome/CBC)
This is the first year the provincial government and the Halifax region are trying to be careful about the amount of salt they use in storms.

Road conditions are also steadily deteriorating in southern New Brunswick.

"Today so far we've had 39 motor vehicle accidents — four of those resulted in injuries and the rest were just fender bender-type accidents," said Saint John police Sgt. Jeff Lafrance.

Because of the recent mild fall weather, many drivers have yet to put winter tires on their cars.

"They're all over the place," said Tristan Horncastle, a plow driver.

The transportation department is reporting snow-covered and slippery conditions on Highways 1 and 2, from Riverglade to St. Stephen and Woodstock.

Environment Canada has issued snowfall warnings for southern New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. Some regions could get up to 35 centimetres. Ice pellets are also possible. Areas along the Atlantic coast and the Bay of Fundy could see up to 40 millimetres of rain.

Prince Edward Island is under a heavy snowfall warning, until midnight, with up to 20 centimetres expected to fall in total.

It's the same storm system that brought freezing rain and winds to parts of Ontario on Tuesday night, and is expected to drop more than 10 centimetres across southern Quebec.

People in Newfoundland and Labrador are also being warned to get ready for some nasty weather Wednesday night. The Burin and southern Avalon peninsulas could see up to 30 centimetres. Less snow is expected in St. John's, but a storm watch has been issued for the capital area as well.

By 7:30 a.m., there were reports of snow in many areas of mainland Nova Scotia, including Greenwood, Bridgetown and Annapolis Royal.

CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell said visibility was down to under two kilometres in Greenwood, N.S., and Saint John shortly before 8 a.m.

School closures

Thousands of students in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia have the day off.

Schools in Districts 6 and 8 in the Saint John area are closed, along with District 10 in the St. Stephen area, Sussex Christian School and the Valley Christian Academy.

District 18 sent students in the McAdam and Harvey areas home at noon. 

NBCC in St. Andrews has also cancelled classes.

All schools in District 2 in the southeastern part of New Brunswick remain open, but officials are advising to watch for updates as there could be an early closure.

In Nova Scotia, schools in Digby, Yarmouth, Annapolis, Kings and West Hants counties are shut for the day. The Nova Scotia Community College has shut down several campuses in the Valley.

The Straight regional school board and Cape Breton Victoria regional school board sent students home around noon.

Flights cancelled

The storm is also having an effect on air travel.

The Saint John Airport, the Fredericton International Airport and the Greater Moncton International Airport all have flight cancellations and delays.

The Halifax Stanfield International Airport also has numerous service disruptions.

Some public services and events have also been affected.

Meals On Wheels won't be offering any meal deliveries in the Saint John area.

A public information session on Rabbit Brook trail in Moncton has been rescheduled for Nov. 29 at 7 p.m.,and the Pictou Garden Club meeting is cancelled. Chapel service at Acadia Divinity College is also cancelled.

NB Power is reporting an unplanned outage in the Miramichi area. About 42 customers lost their electricity around noon. Power is expected to be restored by 7:30 p.m.

Nova Scotia Power is currently reporting no outages, but high wind coupled with heavy snow on tree limbs and power lines could result in losses of power.

Environment Canada officials say the snow will be heavy at times.

The southern half of New Brunswick, including Fredericton, Saint John and Moncton, could see between 15 and 25 centimetres. The Fundy coastline could experience heavy rain.

In Nova Scotia, the mainland could see between 15 and 30 centimetres of snow in the afternoon and overnight, while the Atlantic coast may also see heavy rain.

Transportation officials are reminding motorists in both provinces they can call 511 for updates on road conditions.