SOUTHWESTERN, N.S. – Residents of southwestern Nova Scotia are bracing for a major winter storm that will bring snow, rain, hurricane-force winds, and, it is anticipated, power outages.
In anticipation of the impending weather, the Tri-County Regional School Board and CSAP, along with other school boards in the province, cancelled classes on Thursday, Jan. 4.
The Nova Scotia Community College also closed all of its campuses and locations.
Some other businesses in the region have also chosen to stay closed today and it’s likely others will close early so check ahead before venturing out.
ENVIRONMENT CANADA WARNINGS
Environment Canada has storm surge, rainfall and wind warnings in effect for Yarmouth and Shelburne counties. In Digby County there are snowfall, rainfall and wind warnings in effect. In Digby County, snowfall total amounts of 15 to 20 centimetres are expected.
On the rainfall front, Environment Canada says rain will be heavy at times and the frozen ground has a reduced ability to absorb this rainfall.
In its forecast Thursday morning, Environment Canada said snow and ice pellets will develop this morning ahead of this system but are expected to quickly change to rain over Atlantic coastal regions. Rain at times heavy will continue into this evening then change to flurries overnight. Total rainfall amounts of 30 to 50 millimetres are expected.
“Dangerous wind gusts causing widespread damage are expected,” Environment Canada says.
“Very strong easterly winds gusting to 100 km/h are forecast to develop over the entire province of Nova Scotia today. Over exposed areas near the coast these winds could gust as high as 130 km/h with the strongest gusts along parts of the Atlantic coast this afternoon,” reads the Environment Canada warning.
“Very strong south to southwesterly winds generally gusting to 110 km/h with potential gusts to 140 km/h along parts of the Atlantic coast will develop tonight and into Friday morning as the intense storm tracks north of the province. High winds may cause numerous downed trees and damage may occur from blowing debris. Store or anchor objects so they are not tossed by the wind causing injury or damage.”
NOVA SCOTIA POWER PREPAREDNESS
Nova Scotia Power has ramped up what it calls the biggest pre-storm mobilization of personnel and resources in the company’s history in advance of a severe winter storm.
“This is a bigger storm than the one that hit last week,” said Karen Hutt, President & CEO of Nova Scotia Power, referring to the Christmas day wind storm that left many in the region (and elsewhere in the province) without power for days. “The wind predictions are stronger, gusting up to 140 kilometres per hour, and more sustained, plus there is snow and rain on the front end.”
Nova Scotia Power has called in crews from as far away as Hyrdo Quebec and has more than 1,000 people dedicated to storm response, including frontline crews, damage assessors, planners, engineers, support staff, and customer care representatives.
Crews will begin restoring power as soon as it’s safe to do so, Nova Scotia Power says in a media release, but when winds are gusting above 80 km/hour, they have to make on-site assessments of whether to stand down for safety. Restorations may not be able to begin until winds subside on Friday.
“Weather forecasts suggest this could be the most damaging storm since Post Tropical Storm Arthur,” Hutt said. “Customers should be prepared for power outages lasting through the weekend, and perhaps into early next week. Freezing temperatures are predicted, so please plan for the safety of yourself and your family.”
Nova Scotia Power has opened up its four payment depots in Kentville, Chester, Stellarton and Shelburne, as well its head office in Halifax, as comfort centres. Customers who’ve lost power will be able to warm up, have some coffee or hot chocolate, and recharge their devices. In Shelburne the location is 261 Ohio Road.
Comfort centres are also being set up elsewhere in the region. Local EMO organizations have been posting information on Facebook.
The Municipality of Argyle has a map on its website that shows where comfort centres are located and which ones are open during severe weather. Click here and scroll down on page.
In Shelburne County, some residents went up to three days without power during last week’s wind storm. Comfort centres are being mobilized for this storm. The Barrington and Town of Clark’s Harbour Emergency Management Organization, for instance, will have centres set up at these locations: Woods Harbour Community Centre (6881 Highway 3, Central Woods Harbour) - will open a comfort centre on Thursday, Jan. 4 from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. (or longer if needed). Port Clyde Fire Hall (285 Port LaTour Rd, Clyde River) will open a comfort centre when the power goes off. They advise their comfort centre will be equipped with stoves, charging stations, heat and washrooms.
We’ll provide updates on where comfort centres will be set up during the storm on our website and facebook pages.
Also, check local municipal websites and their facebook pages for updates on local response as well.