HALIFAX – A blizzard swept across parts of Atlantic Canada on Wednesday, closing schools and government offices as well as disrupting travel throughout the region.
Flights were delayed or cancelled, universities and colleges shut down and recreational programs postponed as crews worked to clear roads in blinding conditions.
“It’s absolutely horrible,” said Shelby Smith, a McDonald’s restaurant employee in downtown Halifax who was among many workers sent home early.
As gusts howled and a sudden blast of icy shards caught her off-guard, her assessment was succinct.
“It’s the wind, that’s the worst,” she said.
Just up the street, which climbs at a fairly steep pitch next to Halifax’s historic Citadel Hill, a Metro Transit bus roared and snorted as its back wheels spun helplessly in the growing mire of snow and slush.
Matt Speight, originally from Saint John, N.B., wasn’t impressed.
“I’ve seen worse,” he said.
Environment Canada said there were two distinct phases to the storm, with the first bringing between three and five centimetres of snow on Tuesday night through Wednesday morning in western Nova Scotia and the Halifax area.
A second, more powerful blow hit later, dumping heavier snowfall amounts that were expected to range from 15 to 30 centimetres in Nova Scotia and 15 to 25 centimetres in southeastern New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island by late Wednesday. Similar amounts were predicted for western Newfoundland through Wednesday night.
Tracey Talbot, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the light snow was being blown around by gusts ranging from 50 to 70 kilometres per hour.
“There’s nowhere in the clear for this,” she said.
Marine Atlantic cancelled its ferry crossings between Port aux Basques, N.L., and Sydney, N.S. due to high winds and rough sea conditions. Flights at airports in Halifax, Fredericton, Moncton, N.B., and Charlottetown were delayed or cancelled.
Shopping malls, libraries and some government services were also closed. The health board that oversees services in Cape Breton moved to emergency services only as the storm swept through and most liquor stores in Nova Scotia closed their doors at 4 p.m.