Snow­storm brings parts of East Coast to stand­still

The Hamilton Spectator - - CANADA & WORLD - MICHAEL MAC­DON­ALD AND ALI­SON AULD

A wide swath of the Mar­itimes was shut down Mon­day by a mas­sive, slow­mov­ing bliz­zard that churned out a swirling mass of snow and ice pel­lets as it trudged across the re­gion — and then re­fused to move on.

The heavy snow and pow­er­ful wind gusts — at times top­ping 120 kilo­me­tres per hour along the coast near Hal­i­fax — ar­rived in the re­gion late Sun­day and kept lash­ing the area through­out the day.

Scenes of de­serted, snow-choked streets were a com­mon sight as most res­i­dents heeded the weather warn­ings and stayed home.

Po­lice in all three prov­inces urged drivers to stay off the roads amid white­out con­di­tions. Pub­lic tran­sit was shut down in sev­eral com­mu­ni­ties, and gov­ern­ment of­fices were closed in Nova Sco­tia, P.E.I. and south­ern New Brunswick. Schools were shut­tered and air travel ground to a halt.

En­vi­ron­ment Canada me­te­o­rol­o­gist Tracey Tal­bot said the storm was one of the big­gest and strong­est to hit the Mar­itimes in years, but she was not aware of any sig­nif­i­cant dam­age.

The storm was ex­pected to keep pound­ing the re­gion overnight, with Cape Bre­ton hav­ing to en­dure more pun­ish­ment on Tues­day. The eastern half of New­found­land and Labrador was ex­pected to feel the storm’s wrath by early Tues­day.

“This is def­i­nitely one of the most sig­nif­i­cant storms we’ve had in a long time,” Tal­bot said in an in­ter­view. “It’s def­i­nitely one of the worst in the Hal­i­fax area in years.”

Snow­fall to­tals across Nova Sco­tia were ex­pected to range from 20 to 60 cen­time­tres. How­ever, some ar­eas in the Mar­itimes could be buried un­der as much as 75 cen­time­tres amid higher drifts.

By late Mon­day af­ter­noon, the heav­i­est snow was re­ported in the Fred­er­ic­ton area, where 68 cen­time­tres had fallen at the air­port. The high­est un­of­fi­cial to­tal in Nova Sco­tia was in the prov­ince’s west­ern end at Ke­jimku­jik Na­tional Park, where 45 cen­time­tres was on the ground.

By mid-af­ter­noon, the Trans-Canada High­way was closed be­tween Sackville, N.B., and the Nova Sco­tia bor­der due to poor vis­i­bil­ity. Hal­i­fax res­i­dent Paul Giroux said the bliz­zard rated a seven or eight on a scale of 1 to 10. He said a snow­storm on Feb. 19, 2004, known as White Juan, was far worse. That storm hurled gusts in ex­cess of 124 kilo­me­tres per hour and buried the re­gion un­der al­most a me­tre of snow.

“It was worse than this,” he said, look­ing over his ice-en­crusted glasses. “It’s a lot of blow­ing and stuff . ... We’ve lived through worse.”

Giroux said he has lived in the Dart­mouth area for more than 70 years.

Nova Sco­tia Power, the prov­ince’s util­ity, said the storm had knocked out power to about 13,000 cus­tomers in the morn­ing, and that num­ber held steady un­til late in the af­ter­noon. Most of the out­ages were re­ported along the At­lantic Coast, where the gusts were the strong­est.

The bliz­zard moved into south­ern New Brunswick around 10 p.m. Sun­day night. Tran­sit buses were pulled from the roads in Fred­er­ic­ton, Saint John and Monc­ton.

By Mon­day af­ter­noon, about 1,800 NB Power cus­tomers were in the dark, most of them along the Aca­dian Penin­sula and the prov­ince’s south­west coast.

In Saint John, N.B., city of­fi­cials asked par­ents to keep chil­dren from play­ing in the streets and tun­nelling in snow­banks while the snow­plows were still at work.

AN­DREW VAUGHAN, THE CANA­DIAN PRESS

A skier crosses Bar­ring­ton Street in down­town Hal­i­fax as a ma­jor win­ter storm blasts the Mar­itimes Mon­day. The storm was ex­pected to con­tinue through the night and into Tues­day.

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