Prepare for outages with coming major winter storm: Nova Scotia Power

The Maritime provinces are expecting the first winter storm of the year on Thursday.

Environment Canada cautions significant amounts of snow, damaging winds possible

Environment Canada is calling for lots of snow and wind across the Maritimes on Thursday. (Simon-Marc Charron/Radio-Canada)

The Maritime provinces are expecting the first winter storm of the year on Thursday.

Environment Canada has issued special weather statements for all three provinces, cautioning that significant amounts of snow and damaging winds may result in power outages, travel delays and cancellations, and school cancellations. 

Marine Atlantic, which operates the ferries between Newfoundland and Cape Breton, is already warning of possible travel disruptions on Thursday, Friday and Saturday.

The storm system comes as many Nova Scotians have just recovered from a windstorm that swept through the province on Christmas Day, knocking out power to more than 158,000 customers. Many were without electricity for days.

Power crews in place

In preparation for the wild weather expected Thursday, Nova Scotia Power said it will be stationing power line and forestry crews across the province starting Wednesday evening.

The utility also recommends having an emergency kit ready that contains a flashlight, a battery-powered radio and fresh water, as well as checking to ensure backup power generators are properly installed and in good working order. 

Darvill Hamshaw stands beside one of the several trees felled by high winds in a Christmas Day windstorm, which resulted in power outages much of Nova Scotia. (Richard Cuthbertson/CBC)

The storm will approach from the south, with snow developing Thursday morning in southwest Nova Scotia and spreading northward, according to the national weather service.

That snow could change over to rain in parts of Nova Scotia later in the day. 

Using a long-range model, Environment Canada is predicting snowfall amounts of 15 to 30 centimetres for most of Nova Scotia, while southwest parts of the province could see 20 to 30 millimetres of rain.

New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island are expected to get 15 to 25 centimetres of snow starting Thursday afternoon.

HRM readies snow equipment

Halifax Regional Municipality is busy getting ready for the snowfall, making sure all snow equipment is up and running and there are no mechanical issues.

"Every storm is different. Definitely this one here [is] going to present three main challenges. We're going to have some snow and, depending on where you're located inland, it's going to transition to rain," said Trevor Harvie, superintendent of winter operations.

Halifax Regional Municipality will have its full fleet of snow equipment ready for the winter storm expected Thursday. (CBC)

"And then, we're going to have some very high winds on Thursday evening and Friday morning which is going to be probably the biggest challenge of all. Possibly there could be some blowing snow involved with that, and ... some power outages, downed trees."

He said the municipality is getting its full snow fleet ready, which includes over 200 pieces of equipment as well as bucket trucks for tree removal.

Harvie said it was too cold Tuesday to start putting down salt brine, which needs above –9 C temperatures to work properly. He said there may be a possibility of using brine Wednesday evening.

Strong winds forecasted

Environment Canada is also warning of extremely strong winds out of the northeast for New Brunswick and P.E.I. with gusts of up to 90 km/h. Nova Scotia is more likely to get easterly winds Thursday afternoon with gusts near 90 km/h along the coast.

Those winds are expected to shift Thursday night to southwesterly gusts that could reach as high as 120 km/h along the Atlantic Coast.

All of this wind and snow is bad news for visibility for those out on the road, said Environment Canada.

There's also the potential for higher than normal waves and water levels in the coastal areas of all three provinces that are expected to last into Friday morning.

Those winds are a big worry for Ian Swan with the St. Margaret Sailing Club. He said they're trying to get in as many wharves as they can before Thursday.

"It's very close to hurricane status, so it's really hard on the infrastructure that's left in the water," he said.

Swan said the docks suffered some damage during the Christmas Day storm and they want to prevent any further damage.

"These docks have been in the water for quite a few years now," he said. "We've never seen the same type of damage that we saw on the last storm when it came through."


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