HALIFAX — Motorists in Nova Scotia were being urged to stay home Saturday as heavy, windswept snow from a storm expected to last through the weekend blanketed roads while limiting visibility for drivers.
Environment Canada issued weather alerts predicting anywhere from 30 to 80 centimetres of snow across the province due to a low pressure system that had stalled southeast of the Atlantic coast.
“That’s part of the problem, is that it’s not going anywhere over the next 48 hours at least,” said agency meteorologist Bob Robichaud.
The forecast called for northeastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton to be hardest hit by a dump of 20 to 30 centimetres of wet snow by Sunday morning, with a further 30 to 50 centimetres to fall by Monday.
Central and western parts of the province, along with the Halifax area, were also expected to see a further 20 to 30 centimetres of snow from a storm that began overnight Friday.
In a snowfall warning issued Saturday afternoon, Environment Canada said Halifax-area residents could expect to get a brief break from the storm overnight before it returns with more intensity on Sunday afternoon.
"Snow will be wet and heavy, which could cause strain on utility lines," the warning said.
In a message on X, the social media platform formerly known as Twitter, the RCMP reported deteriorating weather conditions due to blowing snow and asked motorists to avoid all unnecessary travel. By early afternoon, the Mounties advised that Highway 102 between the Elmsdale, N.S., and Shubenacadie, N.S., exits had become impassable because of heavy snowfall and advised motorists to use Highway 2.
By Saturday night, RCMP reported on X that another roadway, Highway 221 between Gibson Wood and Middle Dyke roads in Sheffield Mills, was expected to be closed in both directions due to heavy snowfall for a number of hours.
Nova Scotia’s Department of Public Works and Emergency Management Office also advised the public to monitor weather forecasts and to stay off the roads if possible.
“What we tend to see with this persistent snow is transportation issues,” said Robichaud. “Flights and driving conditions tend to be the main issue.”
In Halifax, transit buses were taken off the roads and the ferry service across the city’s harbour suspended trips for the remainder of the day as of 1 p.m. Saturday. Municipal recreational facilities were also closed.
At Halifax Stanfield International Airport, almost all flights departing from and arriving to Nova Scotia on Saturday were cancelled as of Saturday night. Nova Scotia Power showed on its website that power had been restored for about 1,000 customers as of Saturday night but 100 customers were still without it since the storm began.
Robichaud said the storm’s wind speeds varied across the province, with some gusts as high as 70 km/h in northern Nova Scotia and as low as 30 to 40 km/h in other parts of the province. The intensity of the gusts were expected to pick up through the rest of the weekend, he said.
A slight lull in the storm was also expected to develop in most areas through the afternoon and into the supper hour on Saturday.
"It should ease a little bit, but then by the evening hours we have some more snow with more elevated rates," said Robichaud.
Environment Canada said parts of eastern Prince Edward Island and southwestern regions of Newfoundland and Labrador were also expected to be affected by the weather system.
Snowfall amounts of between 20 to 40 centimetres were forecast for eastern P.E.I., while similar amounts were expected through Tuesday in the coastal and central areas of the island of Newfoundland.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 3, 2024.
Keith Doucette, The Canadian Press