Nova Scotia

Icy storm knocks out power to tens of thousands in Nova Scotia

Thousands of utility customers remained without power Saturday night after a storm that brought prolonged periods of freezing rain, ice pellets, rain and snowfall to Nova Scotia.

No weather warnings remaining in province as of Saturday evening

NSP workers trim ice-covered tree limbs that were touching power lines on Saturday night in Stillwater Lake. (Melanie Patten/CBC)

Thousands of utility customers remained without power Saturday night after a storm that brought prolonged periods of freezing rain, ice pellets, rain and snowfall to Nova Scotia.

Environment Canada said the freezing rain, which began Friday and lasted roughly 24 hours in some areas, was expected to end Saturday morning over mainland Nova Scotia and western Cape Breton and Saturday afternoon for eastern Cape Breton.

There were no weather warnings in the province as of Saturday evening.

Trees throughout the province were caked in a thick layer of ice, causing branches to droop. Some snapped under the weight, blocking roadways and damaging power lines.

As of 7:30 p.m. local time Saturday, there were still more than 38.000 customers — down from 53,000 earlier in the day — without electricity.

The icy storm caused trees to snap in Sydney, N.S. (Tom Ayers/CBC)

The power outages began on Friday morning, as a mixture of snow, rain, freezing rain and ice pellets swept through parts of the province.

Matt Drover, a storm lead with Nova Scotia Power, said the ice buildup on trees and power lines and icy road conditions continued to be a challenge on Saturday for crews restoring power.

"We're working very closely with the provincial [emergency management office] and Public Works to make sure we're getting access to our infrastructure," Drover said Saturday.

"They're sanding and salting the roads so that our line trucks can get to the equipment as quickly as they can."

Second night in the cold

Mike Crocetti, who was shoveling snow at the Beaver Bank community centre, said his power went out at 1 p.m. on Friday and Nova Scotia Power gave an estimated time of restoration of 6 p.m. Sunday.

He said he's doing things to keep warm like shovelling snow.

"This is very unusual," Crocetti said. "We don't see this too often, thank God."

Lisa Blackburn, the councillor for Middle/Upper Sackville, Beaver Bank and Lucasville, said she has been without power for 24 hours.

According to Blackburn, many people were interested in visiting the comfort centres in Beaver Bank, Sackville and Fall River.

"They're always at full volunteer staff there," she said.

"You can be COVID-safe. They've got coffee and Timbits and a place where you can recharge your devices."

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said there was more than 29 hours of freezing rain and drizzle recorded at the Halifax airport.

Snoddon said as the storm departed from west to east on Saturday, increasing northwesterly winds would usher in cooler temperatures, as well as lingering flurries.

Parts of Nova Scotia saw a prolonged period of nearly 24 hours of freezing rain. (Steve Lawrence/CBC)

He said winds were expected to gust to 40 km/h for most of the province and could gust up to 60 km/h near north-facing coastlines, which could lead to more power outages if ice-coated trees are downed onto power lines.

But Drover said he didn't expect winds to be a major issue Saturday. He noted the winds were not above warning levels, so crews would be able to continue working.

"They could impact the trees that are weighted with ice, but we don't expect to see significant outages today with those winds," he said.

Drover noted that this was the fifth major storm the province has seen this year. He said there were more than 500 people working in the field and hundreds more behind the scenes on Saturday.

Some recreational centres and businesses delayed opening on Saturday.

Halifax Regional Municipality said the George Dixon Centre in the city's north end will open as an emergency shelter for those without housing starting at 9 p.m. local time. St. Matthew's United Church is open as a warming centre from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. 

Halifax Transit bus, Access-A-Bus and ferry service was scheduled to gradually resume service starting at 10 a.m. local time Saturday. All bus routes were running on a snow plan and the service warned there may be delays and cancellations.

Transit operations in Cape Breton Regional Municipality were cancelled Saturday due to poor road conditions.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Aly Thomson

Reporter/Editor

Aly Thomson is an award-winning journalist based in Halifax who loves helping the people of her home province tell their stories. She is particularly interested in issues surrounding justice, education and the entertainment industry. You can email her with tips and feedback at aly.thomson@cbc.ca.

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