Canada's east coast is in the crosshairs of another round of stormy weather.

Environment Canada says a major winter storm is expected to barrel into New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island on Thursday, with snow and blowing snow likely to be accompanied by strong and possibly damaging winds.

“Just to the south of the centre of the storm is probably where we're going to see the strongest winds associated with this storm and they could gust into hurricane force,” says Bob Robichaud, Environment Canada warning preparedness meteorologist.

Atlantic Canada was blasted by back-to-back storms around the Christmas break, which left over 158,000 people in the dark. Nova Scotia Power crews finished repairs on Friday. Now, nearly 600 crews are on standby.

“Crews have been having a much-needed break over the weekend and now will be ready to go to respond to this storm,” says Tiffany Chase, spokesperson for Nova Scotia Power.

NB Power is also monitoring the storm by checking in with provincial contractors to see how many additional crews might be available if needed.

This is expected to be the first major snowfall of the winter, but a possible changeover to rain means things could get messy.

“We'll have our full fleet on engaged on Thursday for snow operation and then we'll transition into flooding and tree calls,” says Trevor Harvie of Halifax Public Works.

Nova Scotia Power recommends having an emergency kit with up to 72 hours worth of water, food, and medication, and if possible, a generator.

Meanwhile, several areas of Newfoundland were under a snowfall warning, with 10-30 centimetres expected by midday Tuesday.

An extreme cold warning covered several areas of New Brunswick, where it was expected to feel like minus 35 into Tuesday morning -- part of what the agency called a "multi-day episode of very cold wind chills." Relief may soon be on the way, but it hasn’t yet arrived for the most vulnerable.

“We've had to open up quite a few emergency beds and the warming centre has been open almost every day because it’s been colder than negative 15. so we've been pretty packed,” says Rebecca Whitzman, co-ordinator of Out of the Cold Shelter.

“It’s cold enough that people can die outside right now so we're working together to make sure everybody is off the streets and safe for the night just by opening up the emergency beds and letting people stay overnight.”

The frigid temperatures have also made it a busy week for New Brunswick plumbers.

“Easily a100 calls since the temperature dropped with freeze ups and busted pipes and no heat,” says plumbing company owner Mark MacLean. “I'm hoping it's going to be cleared up for Wednesday night to clear up for the storm we're getting Thursday and Friday, and we got another pressure or temperature drop starting Saturday again, so we're right back at it.”

The New Brunswick government was also warning of possible power outages and deteriorating travel conditions, with up to 25 centimetres of snow expected in most areas of that province.

With files from The Canadian Press and CTV Atlantic’s Nick Moore and Sarah Ritchie