Blast of winter weather brings cold, high winds, whiteout conditions
SYDNEY — Blame snow squalls and blowing snow for reduced visibility and slick road conditions across Cape Breton, Tuesday.
For the better part of the day, a winter storm system brought high winds and light snowfall to the island, combined with bitter temperatures recorded at -15 C or -26 C with the wind chill.
Environment Canada meteorologist Bob Robichaud said open water over the Gulf of St. Lawrence and strong northwesterly Arctic air created streamers that blew across the island from the northwest into eastern areas including Sydney and Glace Bay.
“ We call them streamers because they actually sort of organize themselves in very specific lines,” he said.
“If you happen to be lined up with one of those lines, you are pretty much going to be in snow all day.”
Across the island precipitation amounts varied from 15 cm of snow expected in the highlands and 2-4 cm for the rest Cape Breton.
Whiteout conditions cancelled classes at the Cape Breton Highlands Education Centre/ Academy and at Pleasant Bay School and later at Inverness Education Centre/Academy.
Drivers across Cape Breton reported blizzard-like conditions and reduced visi- bility, followed by sunny skies only a few short minutes later.
A section of the Trans-Canada Highway at Kelly’s Mountain was closed shortly after 7 a.m. after a transfer truck left the road and another two transport trucks were stuck in snow. The highway was reopened at noon.
Const. Mark Skinner of RCMP Cape Breton Traffic Services based in North Sydney said there were four highway accidents between 7-9 a.m., including two vehicles off the road near Balls Creek on Highway 125, with no injuries reported.
By Tuesday afternoon, the North Mountain section of the Cabot Trail was also closed due to extreme whiteout conditions.
“Conditions were pretty bad, there was blowing snow and roads were snow covered,” said Skinner.
The worst accident Tuesday, involved a 44-year-old Glace Bay man who was taken to Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney with minor injuries after a courier truck went off the road near the Alexandra Street exit as the driver attempted to merge onto Highway 125.
In the Cape Breton Regional Municipality, regional police reported about half a dozen motor vehicle accidents, none of which were believed to have caused serious injury.
An injured ICS Courier driver is carried to an ambulance after his vehicle landed in the ditch near the Alexandra Street exit on Highway 125, Tuesday. The man was taken to the Cape Breton Regional Hospital in Sydney, where he was being treated for minor injuries. Blowing snow and slippery roads made for hazardous driving conditions throughout the day.