HALIFAX – The Maritimes were dealt a wintry smack Friday as a blizzard bore down on the region, cancelling flights, interrupting public transit services and closing government offices, universities and shops in the region.
Whiteouts prompted police to urge the public to stay off the roads as plow operators undertook the frustrating task of clearing snow, only to have wind-whipped drifts quickly build back up.
James Rogers, a federal civil servant in Halifax, arrived at work in the morning only to be told to go back home.
He said the nasty weather isn’t surprising given the time of year, but he urged drivers to pay extra attention on the roads after he said he had a close call.
“I nearly got hit by a driver going down a one-way street incorrectly,” said Rogers, bundled up in a fur-lined hooded parka.
“It’s a little hard for people with hoods to see what’s going on around them. I got lucky.”
Liquor stores were closed at 1 p.m. in Halifax, the Annapolis Valley and the South Shore, and buses in Halifax were forced to pull over on nearly deserted streets as a result of the storm.
Numerous flight delays and cancellations were reported in Halifax, Charlottetown and Moncton, N.B. Post-secondary schools including Dalhousie University, St. Mary’s University and l’Universite du Moncton were shut down.
Environment Canada said there were reports of local flooding along Nova Scotia’s Atlantic coast to Liverpool, N.S., because of higher than normal water levels. The agency said heavy pounding surf was expected along the coast throughout the day.
Ten to 20 centimetres of snow was expected across Nova Scotia, with smaller amounts anticipated in Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick. Wind chills ranging from -25 Celsius to -40 C were expected throughout the Maritimes.
The coldest wind chill was being felt in Labrador, where forecasters said it could feel like -45 Celsius or colder Friday. A blizzard warning was also in effect for parts of Labrador, where between 25 and 40 centimetres of snow was expected by Saturday morning.
The blizzard was expected to pass southeast of Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula overnight, dumping 15 to 35 centimetres of snow over southeastern parts of the island mixed with strong winds.
That province was already grappling with rolling blackouts implemented Thursday evening by Newfoundland Power as it tries to cope with increased demand because of the bitterly cold temperatures.