A powerful nor’easter brought snow, rain, and high winds to the Maritimes Thursday, prompting school closures in Nova Scotia and power outages across the region.

The snow started falling in the Halifax area early Thursday morning and intensified during rush hour, slowing the morning commute and leading to more than a dozen collisions.

As of 11 a.m. roughly 20,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were without power, with most outages reported in the Chester, Dartmouth, and Halifax areas. There were just over 5,600 by the end of the work day.

Schools in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board were closed for the day. The Strait Regional School Board decided early Thursday morning that it would dismiss students at 11 a.m. in anticipation of the moving system.

The Halifax Regional School Board decided to keep schools open, but had to close the following 10 schools late Thursday morning due to power outages:

  • Atlantic Memorial – Terence Bay
  • Atlantic View Elementary
  • Brookside Junior High
  • Fairview Heights Elementary (main building only)
  • Herring Cove Junior High
  • Porters Lake Elementary
  • Prospect Road Elementary
  • William King Elementary
  • St. Stephen’s Elementary
  • Highland Park Junior High

Some parents took to social media to question the Halifax Regional School Board’s decision to keep schools open, with many of them sharing photos of two school buses that slid off the road in Tantallon.

Halifax District RCMP say the school buses slid off Hammonds Plains Road on a sharp turn around 8:30 a.m. Police say both buses were full of students, but no one was injured.

“I was horrified,” says parent Melissa McQuade. “This is ridiculous. There should not have been school today."

“I thought it should have been cancelled. School was just crazy," says student Elijah Rivera.

School board officials say their decision to proceed with a normal school day was made on predictions the storm would ease up.

"We base our decisions on a forecast. We judge on what the actual outcome is, and of course, people are more than welcome to feel differently,” says Halifax Regional School Board spokesperson Doug Hadley. “We made the decision and we feel if we had the same information tomorrow, we would make the same decision."

The overnight winter parking ban will be enforced in the Halifax area from 1 a.m. to 6 a.m. Friday.

In New Brunswick, roughly 4,500 NB Power customers were in the dark as of 11 a.m. Strong winds and heavy snow snarled traffic and shuttered businesses across the province.

The entire city of Moncton was blanketed by noon.

“I went to bed last night around two and there was nothing. I was surprised it came in so fast,” says Moncton resident Ian Johnson.

Schools are closed for March Break, but the New Brunswick Community College closed its Miramichi, Woodstock, Saint John and St. Andrews campuses. Classes at the Fredericton campus were cancelled but the building remained open.

New Brunswick EMO issued several travel warnings in the southwest and central areas.

Several cases at Moncton court were held off because the roads were deemed too dangerous for transporting some inmates. 

The wintry weather is also impacting air travel across the region, with most Maritime airports experiencing flight delays and cancellations.

As fast as this storm moved in, another system is racing in to take over. More snow will soon give way to a mix of icy rain overnight Thursday, with temperatures reaching as high as three degrees by morning.

With files from CTV Atlantic’s Ron Shaw and Cami Kepke.