Bracing for a blizzard
Cape Breton is bracing for what could be one of the biggest storms of the winter.
A low-pressure system was expected to form off Cape Cod and to intensify late Sunday, when it was forecast to hit southwest Nova Scotia before reaching Cape Breton around noon today.
Environment Canada has issued a blizzard warning for the island with snowfall accumulations of between 30 and 50 centimetres. Other parts of Nova Scotia may receive up to 70 cm of the white stuff. The forecast calls for stormy conditions with gusty winds and near-zero visibility. The extreme weather is expected to grip the province until Tuesday morning.
Nova Scotia’s Emergency Management Office opened its provincial co-ordination centre on Sunday evening to monitor the storm and co-ordinate support where needed.
“Strong winds and heavy snow are a recipe for difficult driving conditions,” said Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan in a written release issued Sunday.
“Motorists are advised to stay off the roads if possible for their safety and to allow plow drivers to safely clear the roads.”
One of those snowplow operators is Neil Walsh, who was busy preparing equipment at the department’s Sydney River depot.
“I like it out there, it’s fun, but it’s challenging — it’s an important job that needs to be done,” said Walsh, who expects to be working some of the area’s secondary highways.
While the snow is expected to pile up on land, severe conditions are also expected along the coast. Environment Canada has issued a storm surge warning as higher-than-normal water levels, combined with today’s high tides, are expected to produce localized flooding along parts of the coastline.
“The storm surge and strong winds can make the shoreline dangerous very quickly — I urge Nova Scotians to stay away from the coast during this storm,” said Zach Churchill, the minister responsible for the province’s EMO.
Another 10 cm of snow is forecast for Cape Breton on Thursday, but the good news is that the temperature is expected to rise above the freezing mark.
Equipment operator Neil Walsh checks to make sure a snowplow truck is in proper working at the Nova Scotia Department of Transportation depot in Sydney River on Sunday. Environment Canada has issued a blizzard warning for the entire province with the storm expected to hit Cape Breton by noon today. The forecast calls for accumulations of up to 50 cm for the island, while other parts of the province may receive as much as 70 cm. The storm is also expected to feature strong winds with gusts of up to 110 km/h.