Warming centres open as the Maritimes prepare for blast of cold weather
With frigid temperatures in the forecast, Environment Canada has issued extreme cold warnings for all three Maritime provinces.
While temperatures are forecast near the -25C mark, wind-chill values will make those already below-seasonal values feel more like -40C to -47C in New Brunswick.
Temperatures on Prince Edward Island will feel like -35C to -41C while Nova Scotians will feel temperatures of -35C to -43C with the wind chill.
Environment Canada says the cold weather will be caused by “an arctic air mass” that will “combine with strong northeast winds” by Friday evening.
The weather service is encouraging Maritimers to watch out for the following cold-related symptoms:
- shortness of breath
- chest pain
- muscle pain and weakness
- numbness and colour change in fingers and toes
Frostbite can also develop within minutes on exposed skin, particularly with the wind chill, the service warns.
Parts of western Nova Scotia, western Cape Breton and Kings County in P.E.I. are under a snow squall warning.
There are no snow squall warnings in New Brunswick at this time.
Many school districts across Nova Scotia cancelled classes on Friday as the bitterly cold weather approaches. Schools in Zones 1 and 2 of the Anglophone West School District in New Brunswick were also closed Friday.
Temperatures are expected to remain cold throughout Saturday, before returning to seasonal values Sunday.
COPING WITH THE COLD
Many Maritimers are bracing for the heavy blast of winter weather, while others are embracing it.
“I am going to relax by the woodstove and keep warm," said Halifax resident Kevin Hammond, as he prepared for the weekend.
As Friday progressed and the temperatures became more frigid, the Oval in Halifax stayed open for skaters.
“The sun is shining and the wind is blowing," said Ann Gagnon. "It just makes you have a stronger workout and you need to work a little bit harder.”
As for the Oval staying open on Saturday when the wind chill could drop below -20C?
“Our staff will continue to monitor the situation and whether we will close," said HRM spokesperson Maggie-Jane Spray. "But as for now it is staying open.”
At this moment, skater Tyler Hughes agrees with that decision.
“It wasn’t too bad," said Hughes after his noon-hour skate.
However, he knows Saturday could be much colder.
“No, this is pretty much the limit for me.”
The HRM is issuing basic safety precautions heading into the weekend.
“Stay warm and stay indoors as much as if can,” said Spray.
A perfect idea, says Dorothy Hammond
“I am going to snuggle and relax with family and be together.”
Spray says city crews have been applying salt to roadways and they will continue doing so throughout the weekend.
“If [you] have to travel, we encourage people to go as slowly as possible and avoid any icy conditions,” said spray.
Halifax Search and Rescue and the RCMP say they will be patrolling the city looking for vulnerable people.
“Five members out with two trucks on the road,” said Paul Service, public information officer with Halifax Search and Rescue.
He says the team will visit a number of sites in the city and surrounding areas.
“We will be talking with the [individuals] that are still there and making sure they are aware of the extreme temperatures that are coming,” said Service.
In New Brunswick, three Saint John shelters have increased their maximum safe capacities in order to provide a warm space for those in need:
- Out of the Cold (390 Lowell Street – Belyea Arena)
- Coverdale Centre for Women (154 Waterloo Street)
- Outflow (162 Waterloo Street)
The Stone Church on Carleton Street is expected to serve as a daytime warming centre, offering refreshments, snacks and shelter from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday.
A warming centre opened Friday at the former Cultural Market on King Street.
There are also four warming shelters operating in Moncton:
- House of Nazareth, 14 Clark St.
- Moncton Lions Club, 55 Mark Ave.
- Harvest House, 182 High St.
- The Humanity Project, 449 St. George St.
- In the Halifax Regional Municipality, warming centres are open at the following locations:
- Christ Church shelter, 61 Dundas St., Dartmouth
- The Beacon House in Lower Sackville
- Adsum for Women and Children, The Alders, 2380 Gottingen St.
- The Old School Gathering Place, Musquodoboit Harbour
- The 902 Man Up shelter, 2029 North Park St.
- St. Matthew’s United Church, 1479 Barrington St.
In New Glasgow, N.S., Viola’s Place Society on Marsh Street will serve as a warming centre, while the new overnight shelter on Church Street in Amherst, N.S., will be extending hours over the weekend.
The Truro Housing Outreach Society’s Haven House in Truro, N.S., is also set to have increased bed supply and extended hours.
The Town of Yarmouth will open a warming centre in the Yarmouth Fire Hall.
Two warming centres are expected to be open in Kentville, N.S. -- one at the Open Arms Resource Centre on Cornwallis Street and the other at the Kentville Rec Centre on Main Street.
Meanwhile, on Prince Edward Island, the City of Charlottetown has decided not to open warming centres during the stretch of extreme cold weather.
“We haven’t established an emergency shelter. We haven’t activated the Emergency Measures Organization,” said Tim Mamye, chief of the Charlottetown Fire Department.
“We are monitoring the situation, much as the province is, here in the municipality, we’re doing our part.”
While the city is not opening any warming shelters in Charlottetown, a private organizations is. The Murphy’s Pharmacies Community Centre is opening its doors from 3 p.m. to 8 p.m. Friday and 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday.
Anyone in need of a place to stay overnight can call the emergency shelter referral line at 1-833-220-4722.
The weather is also affecting ferry service in the Maritimes.
Marine Atlantic has cancelled ferry service between North Sydney, N.S., and Port aux Basques, N.L. on Friday and Saturday.
The service says impacted passengers will be notified of their rescheduled departure time.
Marine Atlantic is also warning of potential service impacts on the following departures:
- North Sydney to Port aux Basques, Sunday at 11:15 p.m.
- Port aux Basques to North Sydney, Sunday at 11:30 p.m.
Meanwhile, Bay Ferries has cancelled service between Saint John, N.B., and Digby, N.S., on Friday and Saturday.
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