Nova Scotia

Nor'easter batters Maritimes with high winds, rain and snow

A massive winter storm making its way through the Maritimes has closed roads, halted ferry and air service, and tens of thousands of power customers, mostly in Nova Scotia, are without electricity, but the weather forecast is improving.

Planes, ferries, roads all heavily affected by nor'easter

A nor'easter has finally made its way to New Brunswick on Thursday. (Paul Hantiuk/CBC)

A massive winter storm making its way through the Maritimes has closed roads, halted ferry and air service, and thousands of power customers, mostly in Nova Scotia, are without electricity.

But the forecast is improving.

"For the Maritime provinces, there's a gradual improvement in weather conditions as we move through tonight and through Friday," said CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell.

He said the heaviest snow and rain will be moving out of the Maritimes during that time. Outside of snow in northern New Brunswick, it's mostly rain now falling in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

Halifax waterfront flooded

The powerful nor'easter brought heavy snow, ice pellets, rain and strong winds up to 120 km/h earlier Thursday to Nova Scotia, but is now mostly dropping rain on the province. Gusts of up to 115 km/h are expected overnight.

Social media images showed one Halifax house with its roof gone, and another building that had partially collapsed.

A Nova Scotia Power crew fixes a power line that went down in Bridgewater, N.S., on Thursday. (Colleen Jones/CBC)

At high tide the storm surge flooded parts of Halifax's famed waterfront boardwalk, moving a Canada 150 sign and lapping at an ice cream outlet. Water also poured into an excavation site of a massive hotel/office complex.

And 20 minutes before high tide, the surging ocean had swallowed a dock at Halifax's Dingle Park and flooded the short causeway connecting the nearby Armdale Yacht Club to the mainland.

While parts of Nova Scotia were whipped by wind and rain amid temperatures well above freezing, New Brunswickers faced heavy snow that made it impossible to see across the street.

Flurries are expected in Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and southern New Brunswick on Friday, with temperatures falling throughout the day and remaining low for the weekend as a polar vortex descends on the region, said Mitchell.

In northern New Brunswick, Mitchell said five to 10 centimetres of snow could fall on Friday. With the additional snow, some areas will have seen 30 to 45 centimetres.

Outage numbers

More than 100,000 Maritimers are currently without power.

As of 4:05 a.m. AT, there were about 138,900 Nova Scotia Power customers and about 13,150 NB Power customers affected by outages.

Maritime Electric in P.E.I. was reporting outages in 24 communities as of 3:30 a.m., but none in the cities, Charlottetown and Summerside.

Schools and businesses closed Thursday and flights and ferries are cancelled across the Maritimes on Canada's East Coast.

After filling up with salt, plows in Fredericton get ready to head out early Thursday afternoon. (Catherine Harrop/CBC)

Trying to reach Vancouver

Almost all flights were cancelled at airports in Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island with several cancellations and delays at St. John's International Airport.

Alia Parsons was trying to fly out to Vancouver to visit her grandfather who is ill. She said she had intended to travel to Vancouver on Jan. 10, but her grandfather's condition worsened and she bumped up the trip.

"We're trying to get there for a visit, and not a funeral." 

A Halifax Transit ferry makes its way across the harbour on Thursday, Jan. 4, 2018. The ferry service was suspended mid-afternoon due to storm conditions as a so-called 'weather bomb' makes its way across the East Coast. (Andrew Vaughan/Canadian Press)

Parsons left Saint John earlier Thursday morning to fly from Halifax to Vancouver, via Montreal. The morning flight to Montreal for the next leg of the journey has now been delayed.

Parsons said she's anxious. "It is really important. My grandpa is dying, so we're hoping just to get there so we can see and talk to him before he passes."

Alia Parsons and Sophie Parsons are hoping to make it to Vancouver in time to see a dying relative. (Shaina Luck/CBC)

With files from The Canadian Press