Thousands may be in the dark until Tuesday night as blizzard knocks out power
Blizzard conditions are slowing response times for Nova Scotia Power crews across the province
Nova Scotia Power is warning customers if the power goes out it likely won't be restored until Tuesday evening, no matter where they are in the province.
In a statement released Monday morning, the utility said the powerful nor'easter moving across the Maritimes is making for unsafe working conditions that will slow response times.
High winds and blowing snow are expected to continue until Tuesday morning. Some areas of the province could get up to 70 centimetres of snow, hindering access to areas without power.
"In some cases we can't allow our personnel to go up in the buckets. It's simply not safe to do so," said spokeswoman Sasha Irving.
Local power utilities, such as the one in Lunenburg, expect the same delays.
Nova Scotia Power said it expects to have power restored to 95 per cent of its customers in outage areas by Tuesday evening.
As of 10:39 p.m. on Monday, more than 7,000 customers were without power. Irving said customers should expect that number, as well as restoration times, to fluctuate before the storm's end.
Whiteout conditions developed by Monday morning. The storm is predicted to intensify as the day goes on, Environment Canada said.
Nova Scotia Power said it has taken steps to prepare for the storm, including contracting additional line crews. It said there are 380 workers placed around the province who will respond to outages as they happen.
"This is probably one of the worst storms we've ever had, so certainly  would be on the high end of the number of crews we would have dealing with a storm," Irving said.
Getting to customers in need
Irving didn't answer repeated questions about whether some crews have already become stuck or experienced impassable roads.
"There are changing conditions every moment," she said.
Crews are working with the provincial Transportation department to get roads cleared to reach customers in need, Irving said.
Forestry crews will also work to clear power lines of leaning trees and branches.
Cleanup 'over the coming days'
Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said there are 220 pieces of equipment at the ready to help with storm cleanup in the Halifax region. He said roads and sidewalks will be cleared "over the coming days."
"It is going to take a little bit of time. People understand that. It takes a bit of time after something like this," Savage said.
Halifax Regional Police are asking people to not walk on the roads because it's illegal and whiteout conditions are making it impossible for drivers to see pedestrians.
Canada Post said some Nova Scotians may not get mail Monday because of the weather. It said normal delivery should resume once conditions improve.