Cape Bre­ton buried un­der one of worst storms in re­cent mem­ory

Cape Breton Post - - FRONT PAGE - BY DAVID JALA

Most of Cape Bre­ton shut down Tues­day as area res­i­dents spent the day dig­ging out from one of the big­gest win­ter storms in re­cent mem­ory.

“I’ve seen some storms and I’ve seen worse, but this is one of the big­gest that I’ve seen in a long time,” said 80-year-old Syd­ney res­i­dent James Rodgers, who was for­tu­nate to have neigh­bour David MacKin­non come by with two shov­els and a snow­blower to clear a path to his door through a bank of snow that stood some two me­tres high.

Ac­cord­ing to En­vi­ron­ment Canada, the huge low-pres­sure system that cov­ered At­lantic Canada since Mon­day af­ter­noon dumped some 45.7 cm of snow in the Syd­ney area, while an ac­cu­mu­la­tion of 51 cm was recorded at the J.A. Dou­glas McCurdy Syd­ney Air­port. The heavy snow­fall com­bined with very strong winds to leave many lo­ca­tions cov­ered in waist-high drifts — and that was be­fore area res­i­dents had to deal with the even higher walls of snow left in the wake of the busy snow­plows tasked to clear the streets and roads.

“There’s nowhere left to put it — there’s too much and I can’t throw up high enough on the snow­bank so I have to walk with it be­fore I can dump it,” said Regina Gil­lis, a long­time Whit­ney Pier res­i­dent who grate­fully wel­comed the as­sis­tance of neigh­bour Pa­trick Ianetti as the pair cleared her drive­way on Vic­to­ria Road.

Although the win­try con­di­tions made walk­ing dif­fi­cult, that wasn’t enough to keep am­a­teur weath­er­man and In­ter­net celebrity Frankie Mac­Don­ald from hit­ting the streets to dig­i­tally record the af­ter­math of the storm.

“This storm means that ev­ery­body had to stay in­doors — I’ve been out walk­ing and tak­ing pic­tures and I’m go­ing to post them on Face­book,” said the autis­tic Whit­ney Pier res­i­dent, who just last week re­ceived a ma­jor award for hav­ing more than 100,000 sub­scribers to his YouTube chan­nel where he up­loads his weather fore­casts.

With the storm leav­ing ma­jor roads snow-cov­ered and most side streets im­pass­able, the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Po­lice Ser­vice took to so­cial me­dia at around noon on Tues­day with a re­quest to stay home un­less ab­so­lutely nec­es­sary. On its Twit­ter ac­count, the CBRPS posted: “Emer­gency ve­hi­cles and snow­plows are the only things we want to see driv­ing now — roads are still not safe and crews need room to clean up.”

Fleets of pro­vin­cial and mu­nic­i­pal snow re­moval ma­chines were joined by hun­dreds of pri­vate plows, mostly pickup trucks with mounted blades, as they worked through­out the day to clear streets, high­ways, drive­ways and park­ing lots.

Nova Sco­tia Power Inc. crews were deal­ing with more than 40 sep­a­rate out­ages in Cape Bre­ton af­fect­ing nearly 1,200 homes stretch­ing along the Cabot Trail from Pleas­ant Bay to In­go­nish. A hand­ful of cus­tomers in Syd­ney, New Water­ford, the Hornes Road area and Bois­dale were also with­out elec­tric­ity Tues­day night.

Most busi­nesses in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity were closed Tues­day, with a few ser­vice sta­tions, cof­fee shops and other se­lected stores be­ing the only com­mer­cial en­ter­prises to open.

The Tim Hor­tons on Ge­orge Street in Syd­ney ex­pe­ri­enced lengthy de­lays as the few staff that made it in catered to those who ven­tured out in the snowy con­di­tions. Other busi­nesses, in­clud­ing the Prince Street Sobeys store, planned for late af­ter­noon open­ings to give work­ers time to find their way to the store.

In Syd­ney River, Dave MacKil­lop opened his fam­ily-op­er­ated flower shop af­ter his park­ing lot was fi­nally cleared around 2 p.m.

“We’re only open for a cou­ple of hours, but it is Valen­tine’s Day and we had lots of or­ders, so it was good that some peo­ple were able to come in,” he said. “But with the storm hit­ting us so hard, I sup­pose we can say that Valen­tine’s Day is post­poned for a day.”

Kid­ding aside, MacKil­lop ad­mit­ted that the storm was not good for busi­ness on a day that florists have come to rely on fol­low­ing typ­i­cally slow Jan­uarys.

Provincewide school clo­sures were among Tues­day’s many can­cel­la­tions and post­pone­ments, while tran­sit op­er­a­tions, pub­lic ser­vices and many pri­vately owned busi­nesses were also shut down for the day.

Although the snow even­tu­ally stopped, the re­prieve will be short-lived as an­other weather system is al­ready on

“Emer­gency ve­hi­cles and snow­plows are the only things we want to see driv­ing now — roads are still not safe and crews need room to clean up.” CBRPS twit­ter ac­count

the prov­ince’s doorstep. The new low-pres­sure system is ex­pected to in­ten­sify south­west of Nova Sco­tia tonight be­fore track­ing across the prov­ince on Thurs­day.

More high winds are fore­cast, but snow­fall ac­cu­mu­la­tions are pre­dicted to be less than the week’s first storm with the fore­cast call­ing for 10-15 cm of snow in Cape Bre­ton.


Pa­trick Ian­netti, left, helped neigh­bour Regina Gil­lis shovel the lat­ter’s Vic­to­ria Road drive­way on Tues­day af­ter­noon fol­low­ing the Valen­tine’s Day Eve storm that cov­ered the area with more than 50 cm of snow. Com­bined with high winds, the snow­fall vir­tu­ally closed down Cape Bre­ton, leav­ing is­land res­i­dents to spend the bet­ter part of Tues­day clear­ing the snow.


Snow­plows of all sizes were busy clear­ing Cape Bre­ton roads Tues­day fol­low­ing the storm that dropped more than 50 cm of snow over the area. Above, three plows form a con­voy as they work their way down Vic­to­ria Road in Syd­ney’s Whit­ney Pier area.


Tyson MacPhee’s mo­tor­ized three-wheeler was one ve­hi­cle that didn’t need to be shov­elled out of the drive­way Tues­day af­ter a record-break­ing snow­fall in Cape Bre­ton. MacPhee was caught in ac­tion Tues­day on Syd­ney’s Ge­orge Street.


Syd­ney Forks res­i­dent John Michael Hanna spent a stormy Mon­day night in Syd­ney only to awake to find his car Tues­day en­cased in a mound of snow af­ter a storm dumped some 50 cm of the white stuff in the Cape Bre­ton Re­gional Mu­nic­i­pal­ity.


Syd­ney res­i­dents Dan Webb, fore­ground, and Geri Mor­ri­son dig their way out Tues­day af­ter a record-break­ing snow­storm pounded Cape Bre­ton overnight Mon­day. Their work was mon­i­tored by Nor­man, a four-legged su­per­vi­sor.


RIGHT: Mark Hatt blasts through heavy snow along Kings Road, Syd­ney, on Tues­day morn­ing. Af­ter clear­ing his drive­way he took care of the side­walk in front of his home.

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