Atlantic Canada bracing for massive spring snowstorm
Daniel Bitonti, CTVNews.ca
Published Tuesday, March 25, 2014 10:44AM EDT
Last Updated Tuesday, March 25, 2014 5:56PM EDT
Maritime residents are bracing for a massive snowstorm that is expected to hit the region on Wednesday -- a chilly reminder that while the calendar says spring, winter has other plans.
Halifax will likely see anywhere between 30 and 40 cm of snow on Wednesday, with gusting winds expected to get as high as 100 km/h around noon.
Areas south of Halifax -- Lunenburg County, Queens County and Shelburne County -- could see as much as 50 cm of snow.
AccuWeather meteorologist Bernie Rayno said the worst of the storm is expected to hit Wednesday afternoon and into the evening in parts of Nova Scotia, New Brunswick and Prince Edward Island.
“This is as bad as it gets and it will be a full-fledged blizzard,” Rayno told CTV’s News Channel in an interview from AccuWeather’s head offices in State College, Pa.
Nova Scotia Premier Stephen McNeil urged residents Tuesday to prepare for the storm and look out for their neighbours.
“If there are people in your community … that are living alone or are elderly or needing some support, make sure you keep in touch with them to ensure that everyone weathers the storm,” he said.
Prince Edward Island will see similar weather as Nova Scotia, with some places expecting to be blanketed with as much as 40 cm of snow.
In New Brunswick, both Saint John and Moncton will see upwards of 40 cm of snow as well, with winds gusting as high as 90 km/h.
“You’re going to have all kinds of blowing snows and this is the kind of storm that shuts things down, Rayno said.
Further inland in Fredericton, the storm won’t be nearly as fierce, with only 10 cm of snow predicted for Wednesday.
The storm will likely hit Newfoundland sometime Wednesday evening or early Thursday, hitting St. John’s with about 10 cm of snow. Winds, however, will be the biggest concern there, where gusts could get as high as 120 km/h Wednesday evening. Rayno said Cape Breton could see wind gusts of up to 135 km/h.
Cindy Day, CTV Atlantic’s chief meteorologist, says this type of storm is called a “weather bomb” -- a rapidly intensifying low pressure system. Day wrote in a recent blog post that most weather bombs see a central pressure drop of 24 millibars (atmospheric pressure units) in less than 24 hours. She says computer models predicting this weather bomb shown a 40-millibar drop in less than 24 hours.
Jean-Marc Couturier, an Environment Canada meteorologist, says the storm will be one of the strongest of the season, but added that it’s not unusual for the Maritimes to see a storm like this so late in March.
"Definitely we'd still be looking at some potential storms along the Atlantic seaboard and throughout Atlantic Canada at this time of year," Couturier told The Canadian Press on Sunday. "We're not sure at this point if it would be the strongest system... that we've seen this winter, but it will be one of the strongest for sure."
The harsh winter has forced some Maritime municipalities to spend more on snow removal than they budgeted for. According to a report from CTV Atlantic, the winter works department in Saint John, N.B., has already spent nearly two-thirds of the $5.8 million allotted for snow removal in 2014. Cape Breton, N.S., is predicting an overrun of nearly $500,000 due to the snow.
Gordon Hayward, the manager of winter operations for Halifax, says this next storm will likely take the city over its $20 million annual budget for snow removal.
“It’s more dollars added to a budget that’s already swelled,” Hayward told CTV Atlantic.
With files from CTV Atlantic and The Canadian Press