HALIFAX â€” A fast-moving winter storm roared across the Maritimes late Thursday, with the forecast calling for up to 40 centimetres of snow in some areas and winds gusting at 100 kilometres per hour in parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.
Some schools and universities closed in the afternoon, and police warned people to stay off roads as the powerful nor’easter churned out blowing snow, reducing visibility.
Nova Scotia Power, the province’s privately owned electric utility, opened its emergency operations centre in advance of the storm’s arrival.
“This storm is forecast to bring heavy snow to the province but the key concern for the electrical system is the winds that are expected to accompany the snow,” spokesman Matt Drover said in a statement. “The (emergency centre) is the nerve centre … We are preparing for this storm by placing crews around the province.”
The utility encouraged people to prepare an emergency kit that includes flashlights, a battery-powered radio and fresh water.
A long list of delays and cancellations were reported at major airports across the region.
Meanwhile, storm surge warnings were issued for parts of northern Nova Scotia, western Cape Breton and eastern P.E.I.
The Marine Atlantic ferry service that links Nova Scotia and Newfoundland rescheduled its Thursday night sailing to Friday morning.
In the Halifax area, people were stocking up on food, with one Twitter user observing that the No Frills grocery store in the Spryfield neighbourhood was “a gong show, (with) people loading up on bologna like they’re on (a) supermarket sweep.”
A shared photo showed a long line of people buying food at large grocery store in Tantallon, N.S., and officials in Halifax cancelled all garbage and recycling collection for Friday.
The forecasts were callling for up to 40 centimetres of snow in a band extending from southern New Brunswick to Nova Scotia’s northern mainland. Western P.E.I. was also expected to get that much. Lesser amounts were forecast for other areas.
Most areas of Newfoundland were under freezing rain and wind warnings, and blizzard warnings were issued for parts of southeastern Labrador.
Environment Canada said Newfoundland’s west coast could get up to 15 centimetres of snow by Friday morning.
The province’s Fire and Emergency Services said it reached out to coastal communities to warm them the potential for storm surges.
“Strong southwesterly winds combined with low atmospheric pressure is forecast to create large waves and a storm surge of up to 70 centimetres along the south coast,” the province said in a statement. “This is forecast to coincide with the Friday morning high tides for these areas.”
As well, an extended period of freezing rain was forecast to spread across eastern half of Newfoundland, tapering off to rain on Friday morning.
Earlier in the day, the storm pushed its way through the U.S. northeast, blasting the Philadelphia-to-Boston corridor with about 30 centimetres of snow.
Thousands of U.S. flights were cancelled, and schools were closed in New York City, Philadelphia and Boston.
Michael MacDonald, The Canadian Press