A winter storm dumped as much as 40 cm of snow on Halifax by late Friday, and high winds and bitterly cold temperatures are expected to last throughout the weekend.

Snow began late Thursday and continued for much of Friday, and the intense storm closed schools, cancelled flights and led police to warn residents to stay off the streets and sidewalks.

Government offices, most businesses and the nearby Canadian Forces base either didn’t open Friday or closed early as the blizzard whipped through the city.

High winds in Halifax and across Nova Scotia made the temperature feel like -25 C, leading to plenty of whiteouts and dangerous driving conditions.

CTV’s Todd Battis in Halifax said the snow was dry and light, unlike the usual wet snow that the province normally sees.

“We’re not used to this powdery snow, because normally on the East Coast, there are ice pellets or a lot of moisture. That’s not the case this time because there’s this intense deep freeze, -30 with the wind chill, and there’s just not enough moisture at that point to get that heavy, wet snow,” he told CTV News Channel.

Roads in the city were quiet, Battis reported, because most schools stayed closed for the day and many people chose to simply stay home. That allowed the city’s 200 snow plows to try to clear the roads, although the heavy winds are blowing much of it back again.

Halifax Mayor Mike Savage said driving “will continue to be tricky through the night,” but said with a parking ban in effect, that should allow plows to keep working.

“If the streets are clear, I think we’ll be able to get the streets clean and we should be dug out in the morning,” Savage told News Channel Friday evening.

The SPCA in Nova Scotia, meanwhile, appealed to pet owners to make sure their animals are kept inside or provided with shelter. The call came after a dog was found frozen in the Halifax-area neighbourhood of North Preston just before Christmas.

Halifax’s Stanfield International Airport was forced to delay or cancel a number of flights, as did the airports in Charlottetown and Moncton, N.B.

Officials at Dalhousie and St. Mary's universities in Nova Scotia shut down their campuses altogether, as did l'Universite du Moncton in New Brunswick.

Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick were also under blowing snow warnings. Residents in P.E.I. had to contend with a wind chill of about -30 C, while in New Brunswick, it felt like -40 C with the wind.

A blizzard warning remained in effect late Friday for parts of Newfoundland and Labrador as well, where between 25 and 50 centimetres of snow are expected by Saturday morning and where the wind chill is expected to make it feel like -50 C.

Elsewhere in Canada

Across Ontario, Environment Canada issued a number of wind chill warnings, as a cold Arctic air mass that settled in earlier this week hangs around a little bit longer.

Residents in Northern Ontario were advised to stay indoors or cover skin as much as possible when outdoors, as temperatures hover near - 40 Celsius.

In southern Ontario, a Great Lakes low pressure system generated winds that combined with the Arctic air mass to produce severe wind chills.

Things are not much better in the U.S. Northeast, where a winter storm dropped nearly 60 centimetres of snow in Massachusetts Thursday, and the governors of New York and New Jersey declared states of emergency.

By Friday morning, about 1,900 flights had been cancelled nationwide, mostly in New York, Philadelphia, Boston, Chicago and Washington, D.C. The storm has also led to at least nine deaths in Michigan, Illinois, Indiana and Kentucky.

The cold snap embracing eastern Canada is expected to let up a bit over the weekend, with temperatures warming significantly as an Alberta clipper moves in from the west. Toronto, for example, is expected to hit 0 on Sunday while Montreal is expected to hit a high of -4 C.

Temperatures are expected to fall back again come next week, though average temperatures will be in the single digits below zero.

With reports from The Canadian Press and The Associated Press