SOUTHWESTERN NOVA SCOTIA – Snow starting falling in southwestern Nova Scotia late morning March 13 as the region braces for a winter storm.
The snow started out as flurries in Yarmouth but a little over an later the conditions were deteriorating quickly and whiteouts were already occurring by 1 p.m.
Environment Canada has a Winter Storm Warning in effect, saying heavy snow and high winds are expected today and tonight.
The environment Canada warning post Tuesday morning read: “Snow will become heavy at times beginning near noon today over southwestern Nova Scotia and advance northeastward during the afternoon. Snow may mix with or change to rain later tonight or Wednesday morning before changing back to snow on Wednesday then tapering to a few flurries or showers in the afternoon. Total snowfall amounts of 15 to 20 centimetres are expected, with up to 30 cm possible for the Cape Breton Highlands. Very strong east to northeasterly winds will develop later today and persist tonight. These winds are expected to gust from 70 to 90 km/h with even higher gusts possible along parts of the coast and over exposed areas. These winds could give extensive blowing snow and could lead to power outages.”
By 1 p.m. some power outages were already being reported in the region and some businesses and offices in southwestern Nova Scotia were closing early. Closures included local government offices, some businesses, the school board office and work sites, banks, etc.
At 3 p.m. Nova Scotia Power was reporting 44 outages in Yarmouth and Shelburne counties that were affecting 3,523 customers.
This is the third winter storm to hit Nova Scotia in a week, but southestern Nova Scotia had gotten off easy in those previous storms with little to no snowfall accumulation.
With the strong winds and heavy, wet snow in the forecast Nova Scotia Power says it has positioned powerline crews and forestry teams across the province. It has also activated its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). "The EOC provides centralized coordination for outage restoration planning and response, as well as liaison with the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office (EMO). It is staffed with employees representing all aspects of the company," reads a media release. Nova Scotia Power is also reminded people that if they see downed wires to stay away from them and report it to NSP at 1-877-428-6004. If you are concerned it poses an immediate personal or public safety risk, NS Power says to call 911.
This being March Break a lot of people have travel plans. Halifax Stanfield International Airport is cautioning the public that the inclement weather conditions are causing flight delays and cancellations.
UPDATE WEDNESDAY MORNING:
As of 10 a.m. Wednesday, March 14, there were 5,428 customers without power in southwestern N.S.
Nova Scotia Power said early Wednesday morning that it had safely restored power to 70,000 customers who lost power due to the major winter storm that hit the province March 13 and continued into the morning of March 14.
"Heavy, wet snow and winds gusting to more than 110 km/h in some areas of the province caused damage to the power system, including broken poles, downed wires, and snow weighing trees onto power lines," read a media release.
“Crews have made progress getting power back to our customers despite challenging conditions,” said Sean Borden, Nova Scotia Power’s Storm Lead. “Reduced visibility and high winds resulted in periods where crews had to pause restoration efforts until it was safe to continue work. Crews worked through the night to get affected customers back on as quickly as it was safe to do so.”
There are more than 700 people dedicated to storm response today, including powerline technicians, forestry crews, damage assessors, engineers, wiring inspectors, safety specialists, customer care representatives, work planners and supervisors. Once neighbouring utilities have addressed restoration requirements in their own territory, additional crews may join Nova Scotia Power to speed up restorations.
“Beginning at dawn, crews and damage assessors will work on identifying damage that occurred overnight at individual outage locations,” said Borden. “Assessing damage allows us to update estimated restoration times and restore power efficiently for customers.”