Nova Scotia

Wild winter storm causes road closures and disruptions across N.S. Saturday

A powerful winter storm, bringing high winds and heavy snow, is moving across Nova Scotia Saturday, causing poor road conditions and hundreds of power outages.

Cape Breton, Yarmouth and Kings County pulled buses from the roads Saturday

A plow clears snow Saturday afternoon on Robie Street in Halifax. (Gareth Hampshire/CBC)

A powerful winter storm, bringing high winds and heavy snow, is moving across Nova Scotia on Saturday, causing poor road conditions and hundreds of power outages.

The storm is expected to bring a messy mix of heavy snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and rain throughout the day and into Sunday.

Due to the messy mix, police are warning motorists to stay off the roads and limit travel to essential reasons. Heavy blowing snow has caused whiteout conditions and reduced visibility on many highways in the province.

The Cobequid Pass is closed in both directions due to poor conditions.

People were expected to gather at the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border to support a convoy that converged on Ottawa today. The convoy and their supporters are protesting COVID-19 measures including mandatory vaccination for truckers.

Highway 104 near the Nova Scotia-New Brunswick border is seen Saturday afternoon. The department of public works has since closed the Trans-Canada highway at the border due to poor road conditions. (Robert Guertin/CBC)

Motorists have now been asked to use Exit 4 to Amherst to get off the highway.

A group of about 20 vehicles were at the border in Aulac, N.B., to protest Saturday afternoon despite snowy conditions. 

Environment Canada has issued winter storm warnings for most of the province, excluding Richmond and Cape Breton counties where there are rain and wind warnings in effect.

Rainfall warnings have also been issued for eastern Halifax County and Guysborough County.

CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said snow started falling across the province early Saturday and winds have started to pick up, causing some power outages in western Nova Scotia. 

According to Nova Scotia Power's outage map, there were about 4,000 customers without power Saturday morning but most had been restored by mid-afternoon.

As of 4:30 p.m. AT, there were 33 outages affecting about 1,000 customers.

Just the beginning of the storm

Simpkin said residents of mainland Nova Scotia can expect 10-25 centimetres of snow with 10-20 millimetres of rain along the coast on Saturday. Higher terrain could see higher amounts, with 20-35 centimetres of snow falling, along with some freezing rain and ice pellets Saturday afternoon. 

For Cape Breton, Simpkin said residents can expect 10-15 centimetres of snow Saturday morning before changing over to rain, which could bring 30-40 millimetres to Cape Breton and Richmond counties. 

The Cape Breton Highlands could see 20-30 centimetres of snow. 

The storm is expected to bring a messy mix of heavy snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and rain starting Saturday before continuing into Sunday. (Tina Simpkin/CBC)

Simpkin said winds will be easterly at 60 km/h, possibly gusting to 100 km/h, across the province, but parts of Inverness County could see Les Suêtes winds gusting up to 150 km/h.

She said there is also a risk of freezing rain, ice pellets and thunderstorms in the region later today, which will likely make cleanup a challenge in the coming days.

Closures, cancellations

Due to the poor road conditions, several transit services, including in Cape Breton, Yarmouth and Kings County, have even pulled their buses off the roads.

Halifax Transit temporarily pulled its buses off the roads Saturday morning but service has since resumed as road conditions have improved. Some routes may still be on a snow plan.

The Halifax Regional Municipality announced that its winter parking ban will be in effect Sunday from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. This will allow crews to clear streets and sidewalks.

Many organizations have made the decision to shut down for the day.

Irving Shipbuilding in Halifax has cancelled its night shift for Saturday evening, but the day shift on Sunday is expected to continue as normal.

Fresh snow is seen on a tree Saturday morning in Dartmouth. (Monty Mosher/CBC)

Dalhousie University, including its Halifax and Truro campuses, have closed for the day. Mount Saint Vincent University and NSCAD have also closed.

Most public libraries are also closed for the day.

Bay Ferries Ltd. has cancelled its ferry crossings between Digby and Saint John Saturday due to the storm.

Marine Atlantic has also delayed all of its Saturday crossings between Port aux Basques and North Sydney. The trips been rescheduled for Sunday.

WestJet announced Saturday it was cancelling all flights in the Maritimes on Sunday.

A full list of closures, cancellations and delays can be found here.