Nova Scotia

Trees downed, church steeple toppled as another nor'easter sweeps Nova Scotia

Nova Scotians spent Wednesday cleaning up after a third nor'easter in five days blew through the province.

Winds gusting up to 128 km/h blew through province starting Tuesday night

The steeple fell sometime early Wednesday morning. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Nova Scotians are cleaning up after a third nor'easter in five days blew through the province, downing trees, knocking out power, delaying flights and toppling a small church steeple in downtown Halifax.

Wind gusts during the storm — which began Tuesday night and lingered into Wednesday morning — reached as high as 128 km/h in both Halifax Kootenay, near Herring Cove, and Grand Étang, said CBC meteorologist Kalin Mitchell.

Winds gusting well over 100 km/h, combined with wet snow, took down a few trees across the province, including this one in south-end Halifax. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

As of 8:35 p.m. Wednesday, Nova Scotia Power's outage map listed nearly 7,400 customers without power across the province, down from a high of more than 50,000 earlier in the day.

"The major winter storm that we saw arrive in Nova Scotia yesterday certainly has impacted primarily the coastal area of our province and a significant number of outages of the total were concentrated in the Halifax Regional Municipality," said spokesperson Tiffany Chase.

The utility said in a statement it has more than 700 people working on restoration efforts after the first outages started around noon on Tuesday. 

According to the utility's website, it could take until 11:30 p.m. Wednesday before most power is reconnected. But it's not simply a matter of reconnecting people, Chase said.

"When we do see broken poles, and we have to replace those or if we have to put a line back up, it does take a little bit more time," she said.

This large tree in Halifax's south end fell during the storm. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

Church steeples damaged

The wild weather caused a steeple from St. Matthew's United Church in downtown Halifax to crash down on the sidewalk on Barrington Street. 

Another steeple was damaged and leaning, forcing an evacuation of the church, said Rev. Betsy Hogan.

Barrington Street is closed between Spring Garden Road and Bishop Street until further notice while crews stabilize the damaged steeple still attached to the building.

The damage happened early Wednesday morning and it doesn't appear that anyone was hurt. Pieces of stone from the 159-year-old church littered the sidewalk.

A steeple from St. Matthew's United Church crashed down on the sidewalk on Barrington Street. (Paul Palmeter/CBC)

As a result of the damage, Out of the Cold, a homeless shelter located in the basement of the church, will be moved to another location for at least Wednesday night.

Rebecca Whitzman, the shelter's co-ordinator, said it's not an easy task to find another location for 20 to 30 people on such short notice.

"It's pretty stressful," she said. "We're just making a bunch of calls right now to see what we can do with other community members and other shelters to find these people a safe place to stay tonight."

Flights delayed

The storm also caused many cancellations and delays at Halifax Stanfield International Airport on Wednesday. Marine Atlantic delayed its Wednesday sailings until Thursday morning.

Mitchell said the system may still bring flurries and more wind to parts of the province Wednesday evening.

And he said there's still more to come. Another weaker and faster-moving low-pressure system will clip eastern Nova Scotia on Thursday morning. That system could bring five to 10 centimetres of snow, along with a risk of freezing rain for Cape Breton.

A girl leans into the wind while taking pictures of the surf in Herring Cove outside Halifax on Tuesday. (Darren Calabrese/Canadian Press)

With files from Kalin Mitchell and Paul Palmeter