Winter storm causes power outages, travel headaches
Published Monday, February 18, 2013 10:58AM AST
Last Updated Monday, February 18, 2013 7:20PM AST
Another winter storm wreaked havoc in the Maritimes yesterday and today, shutting down schools and causing power outages across the region.
“It was too wild yesterday, too insane,” says Fredericton resident Kim Mackie, who spent much of today digging out.
“Oh, it’s really windy and it hits your face when you go down the hill,” says Fredericton resident Peter MacDonald. “It’s kind of annoying but you get over it.”
High winds created many challenges, especially on Highway 7 between Saint John and Fredericton where motorists faced whiteout conditions and drifting snow banks.
Highway 1 westbound was also closed for a time last night after several cars left the road.
“The whiteout conditions were so severe that we even had a hard time finding these vehicles so the road was closed,” says RCMP Cpl. Chantal Farrah.
Public transit was kept off Moncton streets until noon Monday as crews worked to clean up the 30 centimetres of snow dumped on the city.
Thousands of New Brunswickers were without power Monday due to heavy, sticky snow and high winds. At the peak of the storm, roughly 11,000 NB Power customers were in the dark.
About 900 customers were still without power as of 5:30 p.m., mostly in the Moncton area.
“Together they saw some poles come down, a lot of wires came down, so every outage is a little bit different,” says Brent Staeben of NB Power. “But in the end, it’s all the same. The power went out.”
Hundreds of Nova Scotia Power customers were also in the dark Monday. About 260 outages were reported as of 5:30 p.m., mostly in the province’s Annapolis Valley.
The weather also caused plenty of travel headaches at airports and ferry terminals, where some people were left stranded.
A large lineup of commercial trucks sat at the Marine Atlantic ferry terminal in North Sydney Monday after the last four rounds of crossings to and from Newfoundland were cancelled.
Some truckers from Ontario barely made the last boat from Newfoundland, only to be stranded in North Sydney due to poor road conditions.
“I don’t think anyone appreciates bad weather, but it is part of winter,” says trucker Bob McCready. “So when the bad weather comes, your life is worth more than money. You make the decision to get off the road and stay off the road.”
While an inconvenience for travellers, the cancelled crossings are giving some local businesses a boost.
“Had to call in some extra staff to get the rooms ready,” says Sandra Allen-Simec, who manages a motel in North Sydney. “We probably had 10 extra rooms, which is great this time of year.”
High winds closed the Confederation Bridge to high-sided vehicles and near hurricane-force gusts continue to wreak havoc in the Cabot Strait.
“Today we’re seeing gusts in excess of 120 kilometres per hour and 11-metre waves,” says Darrell Mercer, a communications officer for Marine Atlantic in St. John’s.
“Some of our longer serving employees have said this has been one of the more challenging winters they’ve experienced. It seems like we’re getting more weather systems and they’re lasting extended periods of time.”
Several flights were delayed at Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport, leaving some passengers scrambling to make alternate arrangements, and others to wait out the storm.
“We were originally supposed to fly out last evening at 11 o’clock I do believe, then, because of storms, we were a bit delayed getting back in, and everything just got pushed late,” says stranded traveller Mike Ryan.
Poor road conditions grounded the Cape Breton-Victoria Regional School Board’s fleet of busses, giving students a long weekend for the third week in a row.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Nick Moore and Ryan MacDonald