Maritimers are bracing for heavy snowfall while those on the Pacific coast fear the expected heavy downpour from a "Pineapple Express" will lead to flooding.

And virtually every region in between the east and west coasts faces some type of weather watch or warning.

In Halifax, employers were asked to send non-essential workers home early to avoid a dangerous commute home, as snow and freezing rain hit the roads.

"There have been a number of collisions today, mostly in the outlying areas of the Halifax Regional Municipality," police spokesperson Jeff Carr told CTV Atlantic. "With the inclement weather, motorists need to take caution."

New Brunswick has already been hit with heavy snow. The storm struck Fredericton first, where up to 40 centimetres could accumulate by Tuesday afternoon.

In the southwestern region of the province, some schools closed early in anticipation of the winter blast.

Residents are quickly buying up shovels, ice scrapers, snow blowers and generators.

"The past few years it's been milder, so I think this caught people off guard," said warehouse worker Kevin Chase. "We're well stocked because we knew it was coming."

On Newfoundland's Avalon Peninsula, power crews are working to restore electricity service following Sunday's nasty weather.

Parts of two major transmission lines collapsed following snow and winds of up to 110 kilometres per hour. Newfoundland and Labrador aren't under any weather warnings today, but 110 km/h winds are expected to strike the northwest part of Cape Breton.

In Nova Scotia, students at schools in several southern counties went home early to beat the snow, which first hit Yarmouth.

Coastal parts of Nova Scotia were expected to see snow mixed with rain.

Ottawa storm causes traffic chaos

Traffic was chaotic around Ottawa Monday morning as snow blanketed the city.

Hundreds of staff members and 400 pieces of winter equipment were out on the road overnight, trying to clear the roads.

That did little to calm drivers who were becoming increasingly frustrated with the road conditions. Some expressed anger over having articulated buses on the streets, crawling their way through the storm and causing a temporary traffic backlog.

"All our operators are to follow the cleared area of the road and not wander into the large banks that may build up temporarily during the snow clearing operations," said Alain Mercier, OC transportation director.

The clean-up will cost the city up to $5 million, John Manconi, Ottawa surface operations director, told CTV Ottawa.

City staff members were doing the best they could to ease the situation by monitoring traffic.

"We can take our cameras, pan, tilt or zoom them to the intersection and make adjustments based on lanes being blocked," said Tom Fitzgerald, an engineering program manager with Ottawa traffic. "We can adjust the signal time and improve the traffic flow."

The chaos wasn't only on the streets but in the air as well. Travellers were delayed as airport crews tried to de-ice the runways.

Digging out in Montreal

Montrealers woke up to about 24 centimetres of snow Monday morning.

"On the one hand, it's not that bad, because it's not the thick, wet snow. It's pretty light stuff," said CTV Montreal's Rob Lurie. "The problem is there's just so much of it."

Some individuals interviewed by CTV Montreal rued the fact they hadn't put on their snow tires yet. Others groused about the travel disruptions.

To the south of Montreal, U.S. weather officials are predicting up to 30 centimetres of snow in northern New York State and New England -- and up to 50 centimetres in Maine.

In Ontario, the snow is diminishing in intensity in the Greater Ottawa region. About 25 centimetres are expected in total.

Snow squalls are occurring in areas adjacent to Lake Huron and Georgian Bay. The squalls could extend inland to affect communities like Woodstock, Brantford, Kitchener and Guelph and could last into Tuesday.

"Sudden and frequent whiteout conditions from blowing snow as well as bursts of heavy snow will be a serious problem from these snowsqualls," Environment Canada said.

Barrie, about 90 kilometres north of Toronto, was almost in whiteout conditions at noon. CTV Toronto meteorologist Anwar Knight said that is "lake effect" snow.

Toronto dodged any weather warnings Monday, following a Sunday that saw things go from snow to freezing rain to a downpour. But strong winds could carry the squalls into the Greater Toronto Area by tonight.

CTV Toronto's John Musselman said roads just north of Toronto are ice-covered messes. Dropping temperatures could also leave Toronto commuters facing slippery conditions for tonight's drive home, he said.

Hydro One crews are out trying to restore power today to about 12,000 customers in areas north of Toronto, including Newmarket and Orillia.

Strong winds of 60 to 90 km/h are expected to blow along the north shore of Lake Erie and into the Niagara region.

The Sudbury region and areas north can expect some heavy snowfall.

Southwest Manitoba is under a weather watch, with Environment Canada warning about the possibility of severe winter weather.

East-central Saskatchewan can expect about 10 to 20 cm of snow by tonight. The same system is tracking across northern Alberta, and is expected to bring 10 to 20 cm of snow in a band going from Peace River in the west to Cold Lake in the east.