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Cape Bretoners brace for rain that could melt snow and cause localized flooding

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Being under a rainfall warning hasn't been unusual in the Sydney area in recent years, but this time people are bracing themselves for a potential big mess due to the amount of snow that's on the ground.

Alma Head owns a hair salon in a part of town that floods pretty much every time there's heavy rain.

Given the water levels she has dealt with in the past, she is watching the forecast - and bracing herself.

"Is it stressful? Yes. And today am I stressed? I am, because my phone is going crazy,” Head said. "With the 150 centimeters of snow and another 50 millimeters (forecast) on top of that, rain, it's not going to look good for me, but it's not going to look good for a lot of other people either."

Wally Doue is among those whose home was damaged in the 2016 Thanksgiving flood. In fact, that experience prompted him to move to higher ground.

Like many homeowners, he has been prepping his property for the weekend weather.

"I've tried to get out and just chip away some of the ice in front of my house, so it will be able to flow down the hill,” Doue said. "It's just going to be a big mess."

The Cape Breton Regional Municipality says crews were out on Friday clearing catchment areas so that runoff water and melting snow might have a place to go.

They are also looking ahead to what could be a whole other issue - a potential flash-freeze when temperatures drop.

More winter weather that came Thursday night also added to the problem.

"I think the concern right now is we did have snow (Thursday) evening again, so catch basins and storm drains have been snow-covered again,” said Jenna MacQueen of CBRM Communications.

“Right after the rainfall, we are expecting some cold weather on top of it, which can make it freeze and make the roads very slippery for motorists and pedestrians as well."

February has seen weather-related problems come one after another in Cape Breton.

Back at her business, Alma Head was hoping she won't have to close yet again on Monday.

"Probably since Christmas between the flooding and the snow, I'm going to say we've lost about fifteen days of work,” Head said.

The weekend storm is also expected to bring significantly high wind gusts to much of Cape Breton.

For more Nova Scotia news visit our dedicated provincial page.

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