Winter windstorm causes chaos across the region
Published Thursday, January 31, 2013 2:50PM AST
Last Updated Thursday, January 31, 2013 7:21PM AST
A fierce weather system is doing a lot of damage across the Maritimes, downing trees and power poles, snarling traffic and causing thousands of power outages.
A home under construction in the Halifax area became a victim of the storm after it collapsed under the strong gusts of wind.
The structure, located on Herring Cove Road in Spryfield, came crashing down on a car and caused damage to the home next door.
“It sounded like thunder,” says neighbour Peter Coleman. “There was a major rumble and the house that they were working on came down on ours.”
A Metro Transit bus in Halifax was another casualty of the storm after scaffolding from a building crashed into its front windshield.
The front windshield of a car was also pierced by heavy metal at Point Pleasant Park. No injuries were reported.
Wind gusts reached 90 kilometres in Nova Scotia, resulting in thousands of power outages.
Over 22,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without power as of 5 p.m. with most outages reported in Digby, Clare, Halifax and Pictou County.
“An intense storm moving into the Gulf of St. Lawrence is producing near hurricane-force winds across the Maritimes this afternoon,” says CTV meteorologist Cindy Day.
“The warm southwesterly winds are peaking between 80 and 100 kilometres per hour.”
Pedestrians and cyclists in the Halifax area are banned from crossing the Macdonald Bridge, while restrictions are also in place on the Confederation Bridge.
Restricted vehicles include motorcycles and high-sided vehicles, including trucks, tractor-trailers, recreational vehicles and buses, as well as vehicles towing trailers.
Travellers are being encouraged to check their flight status before arriving at the airport as some flights have been cancelled or delayed due to high winds.
In New Brunswick, over 37,000 customers were without power as of 5 p.m. with most outages reported in Rothesay, Sussex, Moncton and Fredericton.
A string of power poles dangled on Bayside Drive in Saint John, disrupting both traffic and the work day for some.
“Well, I’m trying to get into my office and as you can see, the wires are down, so there’ll be no getting our vehicles today I’m pretty sure,” says Saint John resident John Grant.
NB Power crews were kept busy trying to repair downed lines and teetering poles as the number of people without power continued to climb.
Wind roared off the Bay of Fundy all day and a wind warning was exceeded at one point when a gust reached 94 kilometres per hour.
The wind also caused problems for an ice-fishing village in Rothesay, where some of the shacks were blown down the Kennebecasis River and out of sight, while others shattered into splinters.
“This is certainly one of these times that there’s almost nothing you can do,” says Rothesay resident John Fraser. “Just let it happen because there’s no way of restraining these things. Once the wind gets against them, they’re gone.”
Saint Johnmotorists took their time travelling through the city as lights went out at key intersections, causing police to direct traffic the old-fashioned way.
The wind blew roofing material onto streets and parking lots below while flights were also cancelled or diverted away from Saint John.
Record high temperatures were also reported across the Maritimes Thursday, making it feel more like June than January in some areas, including Nova Scotia’s Annapolis Valley where afternoon highs reached 16 C.
However, cold temperatures are expected to move in overnight which could create a new set of problems.
With files from CTV Atlantic's Alyse Hand and Mike Cameron