Hundreds without power, Confederation Bridge closed as storm rages into night on P.E.I.

RCMP asked all motorists to stay off the road Thursday as P.E.I. was hammered by the first major storm of 2018.

RCMP ask motorists to stay off the road due to storm, Confederation Bridge briefly closed

(Brian Higgins/CBC)

Nearly 1,000 customers across P.E.I. were without power Thursday evening as the first major storm of 2018 hammered the province.

Just before 9:30 p.m., a spokeswoman for Maritime Electric said about 800 customers were without power across the Island.

Kim Griffin said crews were out working to restore power and the utility's call centre was open. 

In addition to a winter storm warning, Environment Canada issued a storm surge warning and a wind warning for the Island. Charlottetown also warned residents about possible flooding.

RCMP asked all motorists to stay off the roads Thursday evening and Confederation Bridge closed to all traffic at 8 p.m. as  wind gusts reached 139 km/h. 

The bridge re-opened at 9:45 p.m. but high-sided vehicles and automobiles towing trailers were restricted from crossing until the winds died down. 

CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland said central and eastern P.E.I. could see between 10 to 20 centimetres of snow and ice pellets overall, but Prince County may get hit by the brunt of the storm.

Strong easterly winds whipped across the province during the afternoon with gusts of 80 to more than 100 km/h possible in the evening.

The storm will also bring higher than normal water levels with high tide over coastal regions Thursday night and Friday morning.

Temperatures were expected to rise to 6 C Thursday night before dropping to –4 C Friday. 

For up to date cancellations for schools, community events, businesses, government offices and more check back to CBC P.E.I.'s Storm Centre page.

CBC meteorologist Jay Scotland says strong wind is the main area of concern with Thursday's "weather bomb." (Jay Scotland/CBC)

High winds main concern

Scotland said strong wind is the main area of concern with Thursday's "weather bomb."

"We'll see two rounds of strong winds with this storm system. East winds ramping up for this afternoon and evening before turning to a more west to southwest direction as another round of strong winds develops overnight through tomorrow morning," he said.

A view of the slippery road conditions near Clyde River, P.E.I., on Thursday, taken before RCMP issued their warning. (CBC)

"With a good round of snow preceding these winds (weighing down branches) my main concern is power outages."

Many Islanders were out grabbing essential supplies, such as milk, bread, butter and, of course, storm chips.

Wahid Choudhury, who moved to P.E.I. in June from Bangladesh, said it's going to be his first storm on the Island.

"We've been hearing about these so let's see if we survive our first one," he laughed.

City warns of possible flooding in Charlottetown

The City of Charlottetown urged the public to prepare for potential potential flooding in certain areas downtown.

The city expects some flooding in areas like the Victoria Park Roadway around Brighton Road and Terry Fox Drive, Water Street near Weymouth and Prince streets and Haviland Street in the area of Dorchester and King streets.

Flights cancelled, Confederation Bridge closed

Afternoon and evening flights out of the Charlottetown Airport were cancelled.

The Confederation Bridge put restrictions in place around 3:30 p.m. and closed to all traffic at 8 p.m. until further notice.

The provincial government closed all offices on the Island as of 2 p.m., as did the municipalities of Charlottetown and Stratford.

Veterans Affairs Canada also closed at 2 p.m.

Schools closed

Schools were closed across P.E.I. on Thursday. 

Holland College campuses were closed and UPEI closed for the day at 1 p.m, with afternoon and evening classes cancelled.

There were also medical appointment cancellations at health centres across the Island for the afternoon