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Whiteout conditions a challenge across Atlantic Canada


Jill Colton, staff writer

February 9, 2011 — The latest bout of snow has eased across Atlantic Canada, but gusting winds are causing massive whiteouts across the region.

Snowfall totals across the Maritimes
Snowfall totals across the Maritimes

It's been an intense winter for Atlantic Canada to say the least. After battling heavy snow and gusty winds over the weekend, the region was forced to contend with another Nor'Easter on Tuesday.

The impact of the snow centered around Newfoundland. St. John's was hammered with 34 cm of fresh flakes. The storm intensified during the overnight hours on Tuesday with nearly four cm falling per hour.

The Maritimes also felt winter's wrath. By Wednesday afternoon, heavy snow had piled up: Sydney (24 cm), Halifax (16 cm), Saint John (14 cm), and Charlottetown (16 cm). Moncton saw around 13 cm and that was enough to cause more problems in the city.

The area has already been hammered with over 250 cm of snow since the start of the winter season and city crews are feeling the pinch. Not only are they running out of places to put the snow, but there's a concern about exceeding the annual snowfall budget. The heavy snow is also becoming a risk for pedestrians and drivers as snowbanks are reaching dangerous levels.

Sidewalks in Moncton looking more like tunnels with all of the snow
Sidewalks in Moncton looking more like tunnels with all of the snow

The snow from this latest storm is tapering, but the region isn't completely in the clear just yet.

“Northwesterly winds are helping to kick up snow, leading to diminished visibilities on the roads,” cautions Patrick Cool, a meteorologist here at The Weather Network.

As a result, many schools across St. John's closed their doors Wednesday. Fierce winds helped to cause severe whiteout conditions.

Meanwhile, in parts of Nova Scotia, the sudden drop in temperatures and strong winds have made highway conditions treacherous. The Annapolis Valley, South Shore, Chignecto Central and Halifax Regional boards closed all schools for the day. Schools in Digby County and all across P.E.I were closed as well.

High winds also caused problems on the Confederation Bridge forcing a closure for six hours Wednesday morning.

RCMP Staff Sgt. Peter Ferguson says there were several accidents on Highway 101 (one of the major routes in Halifax). “The winds are very high, complete blowouts and whiteouts at times, and very slippery, icy road conditions. If you are driving, slow down, be very cautious and leave plenty of space between yourself and the vehicle in front of you,” he warns.

According to RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae, as many as six vehicles were involved in a crash on Highway 101 near Lucasville and there were at least two other crashes within a few kilometres of that scene.

“The winds are expected to let up from west to east, but will continue into the evening hours on Wednesday for areas like Cape Bretton,” explains Cool.

With files from CBC New Brunswick and Andrea Stockton

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