Work, travel disrupted as nor'easter whips province

Work, travel disrupted as nor'easter whips province

A nor’easter bringing up to 20 centimetres of snow to New Brunswick on Thursday forced some businesses, stores and government services to close early, created dangerous highway conditions and left thousands without electricity at times.

Power has been restored to most of the 2,000 NB Power customers in Charlotte and Madawaska counties who lost electricity in the morning.

New outages, however, were reported in the Miramichi area as the storm moved into northeastern New Brunswick. As of 6:30 p.m., close to 2,700 households were still without power across the province, with most of the outages concentrated in the Miramichi area. 

The wind-driven snow, which began before dawn, prompted police to ask drivers to slow down or get off the road.

The storm quickly forced closures across the province, including New Brunswick Community College in Fredericton, Saint Andrews, Woodstock and Saint John. Public schools were already closed because of March break.

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The storm was bringing lots of snow to New Brunswick’s capital city on Thursday, forcing the municipal and provincial governments to close early. (CBC)

Some businesses didn’t open at all or closed early, and several morning flights in and out of New Brunswick airports were cancelled. There were a few cancellations later in the day, but most of the flight disruptions involved delays.

Fredericton City Hall and related administrative offices closed at noon. Provincial government offices in the Fredericton are also closed.

The Saint John City Market closed in the morning, and the Regent Mall in Fredericton closed in early afternoon.

“March is full of surprises,” said Rose-Hannah Gaskin, who was busy shovelling out her driveway in Fredericton. 

Rose-Hannah

Rose-Hannah Gaskin was busy shoveling out her driveway during Thursday’s storm. (CBC)

“I didn’t really think it was all over yet. That would be too good to be true.”

Gaskin said she’s ready for the next snowstorm, which is expected to hit the province over the weekend.

“Just hunker down and do what has to be done,” she said. “The end of March is coming.”

Snow-covered highways

Felicia Murphy, spokesperson for SNC-Lavalin, which maintains the Trans-Canada Highway from the Quebec border to Longs Creek and Route 95 to the U.S. border, said highways were partly snow-covered, with slush and drifting patches as well.

“The drifting is making the visibility a little less than ideal,” she said. “They might come across some whiteout conditions on the highway as well.” 

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RCMP have been responding to motor vehicle accidents and have asked drivers to slow down or not travel. (CBC)

Mike Walker, manager of roadway operations for the City of Fredericton, said driving conditions were poor throughout the capital city. Crews have been out plowing since the early morning and are expected to have everything cleared by Friday.

Icy driveway? Salt not working? Try beet juice.2:26

But snow will fall again on Friday and Saturday, mixed in with a bit of rain, Environment Canada said.

The agency said snowfall amounts with the second system could be significant, possibly reaching 15 cm in 12 hours.

“Visibility may be suddenly reduced at times in heavy snow,” Environment Canada said.

“There may be a significant impact on rush-hour traffic in urban areas.”

RCMP are advising motorists to reduce their speed, keep their distance from other vehicles and be conscious of their surroundings.

“In town it’s a bit better but on the highway you have to consider strong winds,” said Const. Isabelle Beaulieu of the RCMP.

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Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for most of the province Thursday. (Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC)

“Stay off the road if you have the option and slow down.”

Since this morning, RCMP have responded to motor vehicle accidents in Sussex, Minto and Blackville because of road conditions. No one was injured in the crashes.

Danielle Elliott, a spokesperson with EMO, said in these types of weather events, residents should be prepared for any type of emergency, such as a power outage. They should have everything they need for at least 72 hours following a storm.

New Brunswick forecast

Northern New Brunswick

Tonight: Cloudy with snow that will be heavy at times throughout the evening. Snow will ease to flurries near and after midnight. As much as 15 cm of snow is expected. Easterly winds will be gusting from 20 km/h to 40 km/h after midnight. Temperatures will drop to a low near –2 C.

Friday: Cloudy with showers, drizzle and fog. Rain will turn into snow in the evening in the northeast. Easterly winds will be travelling between 20 km/h and 40 km/h. Temperatures will be at a high near 3 C.

Fredericton and area

Tonight: Cloudy with snow turning to showers near midnight. Fog will develop near midnight and about 5 cm of snow is expected. Easterly winds will be travelling between 10 km/h and 20 km/h. Temperatures will be at a high near 1 C.

Friday: Cloudy with patchy drizzle and fog. Easterly winds will be travelling between 10 and 20 km/h. Temperatures will be at a high near 4 C.

Southern New Brunswick

Tonight: Cloudy with snow turning to showers and fog in the evening. About 5 cm of snow is expected. Southeasterly winds will be travelling between 30 km/h and 50 km/h. Temperatures will be at a high near 1 C.

Friday: Cloudy with showers, drizzle and fog. Rain will turn to snow in the east late afternoon or evening. Northerly winds will be travelling between 20 km/h and 40 km/h. Temperatures will be at a high of about 5 C.