Atlantic Canada under snow, water following intense winter storm
A massive winter storm hit Eastern Canada on Saturday, knocking out power to thousands of residents and prompting dozens of flight cancellations.
Parts of Nova Scotia were particularly hard-hit after a storm surge caused flooding in Shelburne. Up to four feet of water gushed into the streets as emergency officials warned residents to stay away from the region.
The flooding was the worst Shelburne had seen since the 1976 Groundhog Day storm, which caused flooding of up to 1.6 metres deep, causing extensive damage to wharves, historic coastal buildings and boats.
As evening fell, there were still concerns that high tide combined with 70-80 km/h winds would bring repeat flooding, causing further damage.
“As the storm passes over the next 12 to 24 hours we can assess the damage,” Kirk Cox, Shelburne’s chief administrative officer, told CTV Atlantic.
Wind gusts of up to 100 km/h hit Nova Scotia’s coast Saturday morning, downing a number of power lines and blowing the roof off at least one house.
Nova Scotia Power said 21,000 customers were without electricity early Saturday afternoon in the province's Annapolis Valley and on the South Shore. By early evening that number had been brought down to 5,000. In Moncton, N.B., 1,400 residents were left in the dark.
In Saint John, wind gusts reached between 90 and 100 km/h, causing white-outs and prompting the fire department to urge drivers to stay off the roads.
Saint John also had to contend with water issues Saturday after an underground pipe burst. As engineers restored the water supply, residents in certain areas of the city were told to boil their water as preparations were made to repair the pipe and test water quality.
A blizzard warning remained in effect Saturday evening for Prince Edward Island, where up to 30 centimetres of snow was expected, and Halifax and Fredericton, where Environment Canada forecasted 40 centimetres of snow.
Newfoundland is expecting a dumping of snow as well, with amounts of up to 55 centimetres by Monday.
Dozens of flights scheduled for Saturday were grounded at Halifax Stanfield International Airport, while all Marine Atlantic crossings were cancelled for the day.
As Eastern Canada endured the blizzard-like weather, many in southern Ontario spent Saturday digging themselves out of the remnants left behind by the same storm.
Described as the worst storm to hit the Greater Toronto Area in five years, some parts of the southern Ontario saw as much as 40 centimetres of snow, which began overnight Friday and continued throughout the day.
At Toronto’s Pearson International Airport, hundreds of flights coming in and out of the airport were grounded Friday. The effects of the storm continued into Saturday with another 230 flights cancelled.
The storm was also blamed for three deaths in Ontario and one in Quebec.
Early Friday morning, an 80-year-old woman died while shovelling snow in Hamilton. In Pickering, Ont., a 49-year-old man from nearby Oshawa lost his life in a three-vehicle collision while another crash along Highway 401 near Prescott, Ont., killed a 57-year-old man from Ottawa. In Marieville, Que., a 23-year-old woman died in a car crash, according to La Presse.
A bus carrying 38 people also rolled on the 401 near Brockville, Ont., seriously injuring the driver. Some passengers suffered minor injuries, police said. A stretch of the highway was closed for some time after the crash.
The snow isn’t expected to linger in Toronto for long as above-freezing temperatures are forecasted for early next week, according to Environment Canada.
Meanwhile south of the border, hundreds of thousands of residents in the U.S. Northeast were left in the dark on Saturday as a storm swept through the region.
The storm dumped 55 centimetres of snow on New England and knocked out the power to 650,000 homes and businesses throughout the northeastern states. Some may be now facing days without power.
Some homes in Massachusetts had to be evacuated following coastal flooding.
Airlines cancelled more than 5,300 flights through Saturday, and New York City's three major airports and Boston's Logan Airport closed.
At least five deaths in the U.S. are believed to be related to the snowstorm. In Boston, an 11-year-old boy died from carbon monoxide poisoning after he sat in a running car to escape the cold while his father shoveled the snow Saturday morning.
According to the Boston Fire Department, the car exhaust was obstructed by a snow bank that caused the fumes to enter the vehicle.
Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee had words of caution for residents who are digging out.
"People need to take this storm seriously, even after it's over,” he said. “If you have any kind of heart condition, be careful with the shovelling.”
A mandatory order to stay off the roads until 4 p.m. EST while plows cleared has been lifted in Massachusetts, Connecticut and Rhode Island. In Connecticut, where more than 240 car accidents were reported, the National Guard helped rescue approximately 90 motorists who were suffering from hypothermia. They were taken to hospital.
The National Weather Service says up to 90 centimetres of snow is expected in Boston, threatening the city's 2003 record of 70 centimetres. A wind gust of 122 km/h was recorded at Logan Airport.