Thursday, November 29, 2018

CANADA: Major storm batters Atlantic Canada with snow and strong winds

Environment Canada says between 20 and 30 cm of snow is expected

By Elizabeth Fraser - CBC News

Strong winds and heavy snow have brought down a lot of poles on P.E.I. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

A massive winter storm making its way through Atlantic Canada has forced school closures and flight cancellations, halted ferry services and left hundreds of thousands of customers without power on Thursday morning.

Environment Canada has issued weather warnings in New Brunswick, P.E.I., Nova Scotia, and Newfoundland and Labrador.

The weather agency said winds could gust to 110 km/h in mainland Newfoundland and Labrador, where snowfall amounts were forecast to reach 25 centimetres in the central portion of the province.Strong winds and heavy snow have been pounding areas like Moncton, New Brunswick on Thursday. (CBC)

Northern Nova Scotia was expected to get upwards of 20 centimetres of snow, with winds gusting up to 80 km/h before conditions were expected to improve Friday.

Environment Canada said the northern coast of P.E.I. could see pounding waves and surf, possibly causing flooding, while eastern New Brunswick could get up to 15 centimetres of snow and blustery winds up to 80 km/h. 

Over 300,000 without powerSeveral school closures have been reported in the Moncton, N.B., area on Thursday morning. (Shane Magee/CBC)

More than 300,000 customers are without power across the Maritimes. Nearly 250,000 of those customers are in Nova Scotia.

Tiffany Chase, a spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power, said the problem affecting much of the mainland originated in Cape Breton, where heavy snow and tree branches on power lines caused an interruption in the transmission system near Port Hawkesbury.
Cathy Lowe took some pictures of these poles down on Sherwood Road in Charlottetown on her way home from a night shift. (Cathy Lowe/Facebook)

Meanwhile, close to 39,000 customers were without power in New Brunswick. Most of those customers live in the Moncton, Riverview and Dieppe areas.

Marc Belliveau, a spokesperson for NB Power, said crews were being deployed Thursday morning. The utility also brought in five contractor crews in Miramichi and 10 contractor crews in Moncton.

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"The biggest issue that is causing outages is high winds — gusting to 80 [km/h] — which is causing tree contact with lines," he said.

In P.E.I. outages peaked at 51,000 customers for Maritime Electric, and all 7,000 Summerside Electric customers were also out.

Drive with cautionThe causeway at Brackley Beach in P.E.I. is severely flooded Thursday afternoon. (Pat Martel/CBC)

Schools across Atlantic Canada were closed or had delayed openings, and ferry service between Newfoundland and Labrador and Nova Scotia was cancelled until the winds could die down. The Confederation Bridge between P.E.I. and New Brunswick had restricted travel.

Isabelle LeBlanc, director of communications for the City of Moncton, said streets remained slippery and covered with snow.
We have to be aware of the driving conditions and adjust our speeds and driving style to accommodate that.- Al Giberson, general manager for MRDC

LeBlanc said salt crews have been out since shortly after midnight and snow removal equipment is clearing city streets.

But she still advised motorists to drive with caution while out on the roads.

"For now everything is business as usual for the City of Moncton."

Codiac Transpo will be out on the roads, but buses could be pulled off if winds start to pick up and reduce visibility.

"Our main concern right now is the wind and the wind is supposed to pick up," she said.

"So we're going to keep a close eye on that."

Reduced visibility A Maritime Electric crew at work where high voltage lines came down near a substation on Sherwood Road in Charlottetown. (Brian Higgins/CBC)

Al Giberson​, general manager for MRDC, the company that maintains the Trans-Canada Highway between Moncton and Fredericton, said there was slush, and snow was blowing and drifting toward the Moncton area of the highway.

"There's going to be some reduced visibility in the eastern section of the Trans-Canada Highway this morning," he said.

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Although the highway was salted, he advised motorists to drive slowly, allow space between other drivers on the road and give themselves lots of travel time.

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"We have to be aware of the driving conditions and adjust our speeds and driving style to accommodate that," he said.

"If you absolutely have to [drive], conditions get a little bit better as you travel west but there is a bit of snow and there is some slush on the road."

With files from The Canadian Press, CBC's Kevin Yarr

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