Widespread winter storm warnings are in effect across the Maritimes for a powerful nor’easter sweeping up the eastern seaboard and bringing significant winter weather to Atlantic Canada through Saturday. Heavy snowfall and high winds could lead to blizzard conditions at times, along with a prolonged period of freezing rain that could cause significant icing in coastal Nova Scotia. Heavy rain associated with the milder side of this system could also cause flooding issues in spots. More details and what you need to know to prepare, below.
FRIDAY: SNOW AND RAIN BEGINS TO SPREAD OVER MARITIMES
A cold front approaching the Maritimes on Friday morning will set the stage for rain and snow to begin across the region by Friday afternoon. This cold front will supply the approaching nor’easter with enough cold air to produce ample snow and ice on Friday night and Saturday.
Temperatures will be cold enough for precipitation to begin as snow across southern New Brunswick and western Prince Edward Island. Farther east, light rain will begin over Nova Scotia and persist into the afternoon hours.
Meanwhile, a low-pressure system in the western Atlantic Ocean will rapidly gather strength as it approaches the Maritimes. It’s likely that this system will meet the criteria for a ‘weather bomb’ as it sweeps into the area. A weather bomb, or a bomb cyclone, is a centre of low pressure that rapidly strengthens in a short period of time.
WATCH: WHAT, EXACTLY, IS A 'WEATHER BOMB'?
FRIDAY NIGHT: NEAR-ZERO VISIBILITY HIGH WINDS DRIVE HEAVY SNOW
Precipitation will quickly pick up in intensity as the bomb cyclone approaches the Maritimes into Friday evening. Very heavy snow will spread over southern New Brunswick, the Bay of Fundy, and the western half of P.E.I. as the storm cranks up across the area.
A widespread swath of 30-50 cm of snow will spread over the Maritimes. The heaviest totals will focus on those communities where precipitation will remain all or mostly snow. Ice pellets may mix in with the snow at times in eastern P.E.I.
Very strong winds will accompany the heavy snow and ice across the Maritimes. The region will see frequent wind gusts of 80-100 km/h during the height of the storm, lasting into Saturday morning. The high winds combined with heavy snow will lead to blizzard conditions at times. The force of the winds and weight of the snow and ice could also lead to power outages across the region.
Down in Nova Scotia, an intricate dance between cold air at the surface and warm air aloft will lead to a messy mix of rain, freezing rain, ice pellets, and snow across the province. The transition between the four precipitation types will occur over short distances. This is a tricky setup for Halifax, especially, since the metro area is right in the transition zone between ice and snow.
Environment and Climate Change Canada (ECCC) issued a freezing rain warning for much of Nova Scotia’s east coast ahead of the icing potential. “Surfaces such as highways, roads, walkways and parking lots may become icy and slippery. Take extra care when walking or driving in affected areas,” ECCC said in its warning.
A rainfall warning is in effect for Cape Breton, where precipitation will remain liquid rain for most of the storm. The region can expect 30-50 mm of rain through early Saturday, which could lead to localized flooding issues in spots.
SATURDAY: UGLY MORNING FOR MARITIMES, RAIN REACHES NEWFOUNDLAND
The nor’easter will take its time pulling away from the Maritimes on Saturday. Heavy snow and high winds will continue for many areas through sunrise on Saturday.
Colder air will eventually win the battle and precipitation will gradually change over to snow for most of Nova Scotia on the tail-end of the storm. Temperatures will fall well below freezing across the province, so pay close attention to areas of standing water on roads and sidewalks that will freeze solid on Saturday morning.
Newfoundland will largely find itself on the warmer side of this storm. Widespread rainfall will spread over the island Friday night and last through Saturday evening. 40-60 mm of rain is possible along the southern shores of Newfoundland, with lower totals east toward the Avalon.
Colder air will allow precipitation to change over to freezing rain and ice pellets across the Newfoundland’s western coast during the day on Saturday. These communities could end the storm with 10-20 cm of snow. A prolonged period of freezing rain could cover portions of the Great Northern Peninsula on Saturday before changing over to snow.
Gusty winds will persist behind the storm for all of Atlantic Canada, gradually waning as the nor’easter lifts out of the region overnight into Sunday. These gusty winds could cause more travel issues with residual blowing snow and potential power interruptions.
Temperatures will fall quite a bit on Saturday night into Sunday morning, bottoming out at -15°C in Summerside, P.E.I., and -19°C in Moncton, New Brunswick. Blustery conditions will lead to even colder wind chill values.
Conditions will remain cold for the day on Sunday. Temperatures will briefly moderate across the Maritimes heading into early next week before another shot of Arctic air arrives by midweek. An active pattern will bring the potential for several more systems across the region through next week.
STAY SAFE: PREPARE FOR HIGH WINDS AND POWER OUTAGES
The impending nor’easter will bring high winds that could cause damage, especially to trees and power lines. Make sure to secure or remove any loose objects that could blow around during the storm. Remain mindful of trees and tree limbs that could fall during the storm.
The combination of heavy snow and high winds could lead to power outages heading into this weekend. It’s a good idea to prepare now for potential power outages.
Make sure you have ready-to-eat food if you can’t cook during a power outage. Charge up mobile devices before the storm arrives and keep a rechargeable battery pack on hand to juice up your device when needed. Dig out flashlights and fresh batteries so you don’t have to strain your cell phone battery looking around in the dark.
Stay tuned to The Weather Network for the latest updates on this major winter storm.