Powerful storm blasts toward Maritimes as Montreal, Ottawa dig out

Thomas Bink

A powerful winter storm that broke snowfall records in Montreal is taking aim at Canada's Maritime provinces, according to Environment Canada.

"Heavy snow and strong easterly winds over southwestern Newfoundland this morning will spread northeastward today," the weather office stated in a release.

Central and northern parts of Newfoundland can expect 20 to 30 centimetres of snow today as the low-pressure system producing the storm tracks from southern Nova Scotia to Cape Breton Friday night. Powerful easterly winds will accompany the snow, with gusts reaching 100 km/h along Newfoundland's south and west coasts.

More on the storm:

Coastal communities can expect less snowfall as the precipitation is likely to mix with or change to rain or ice pellets at some point. Parts of Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island also lay in the storm's path, and winter storm watches have been posted for those provinces.

This is the same storm that wreaked havoc in the U.S. Midwest earlier this week and hammered central and eastern Canada over the past two days. At least 45 cm of snow fell on Montreal on Thursday, breaking a record for snowfall for the date that had held since 1969. The biggest snowfall for the month of December in Montreal was 41.2 cm, which was also surpassed by this single storm.

On Friday morning, some 3,000 city workers and 2,500 pieces of equipment were mobilized to dig the city out, the Montreal Gazette reports.

[ Related: Get your local forecast from Yahoo! Weather ]

Ottawa was also hit hard, with 26 cm of fresh snow falling on the city Thursday, according to the Ottawa Citizen. The capital city issued an overnight parking ban between 1 a.m. and 7 a.m. ET to clear roads for snowplows. It was the second time in less than a week that Ottawa residents were forced to dig out, having been hit with up to 40 cm of snow last Friday.

The storm is being blamed for at least 16 deaths in the U.S. Over 200,000 homes in Arkansas, Maryland and New Jersey are still without power after the storm blew through the East Coast with snow, rain and high winds. The storm spawned tornadoes along the Gulf Coast and deaths from wind-toppled trees and car crashes were reported in Texas, Louisiana and Kentucky.

Once this powerful storm has blown out to the Atlantic, a smaller storm is expected to follow, with Toronto expecting 3 to 5 cm of snow starting Saturday. However, this storm is expected to be much weaker and won't hamper the efforts of snow-removal crews throughout eastern Ontario and Quebec.

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