Thousands of customers without power after storm whips New Brunswick

NB Power has restored power to more than half the thousands of customers who lost it when strong winds and heavy rains swept through New Brunswick on Thursday.

In late afternoon, some 16,300 customers were without electricity, but the number dropped to about 7,100 in the evening.

The biggest numbers were in Charlotte County, the Kennebecasis Valley and Victoria and Madawaska counties.

Marc Belliveau, a spokesperson for NB Power, said in an emailed statement that the outages were wind-related, where "trees and debris are making contact with lines."

The utility's website said restoration time estimates will be provided "when crews are able to safely assess the damage."

In Saint John, both King's and Queen's squares on the central peninsula, lost trees.

NB Power has 100 crews out restoring power.   

Environment Canada said the storm would bring 20 to 35 millimetres of rain, along with strong eastern winds gusting to 70 or 80 kilometres an hour. Over areas near the coast, the winds were forecast to gust to 90 km/h.

The storm was the first "weather bomb" of the season, according to CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon. That's a rapidly developing storm, where the central pressure drops 24 millibars or more within 24 hours, creating a bigger threat for strong winds. 

Environment Canada issued a storm surge and wind warning for these areas:

  • Acadian Peninsula.
  • Bathurst and Chaleur region.
  • Campbellton and Restigouche County.

Meanwhile, other parts of the province were under a wind warning, including:

  • Fundy National Park.
  • Grand Manan and Coastal Charlotte County.
  • Kent County.
  • Kouchibouguac National Park.
  • The Miramichi area.
  • Moncton and southeastern New Brunswick.
  • The Saint John area.

The storm came a month after the remnants of Hurricane Dorian battered the region.

"Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur," Environment Canada said in a special weather statement. Loose objects may be tossed by the wind and cause injury or damage. High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break." 

Hadeel Ibrahim/CBC

New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization raised its activation level to "enhanced monitoring." This means the province is aware the storm is causing damage and is keeping a close watch on the situation.

In Saint John, city crews prepared trucks with road barricades and signs, and were busy clearing major catch basins and drainage gutters, officials said.

People are being asked to help clear catch basins and gutters to provide better drainage for storm water and to avoid driving on any water-covered roads.

Environment Canada said winds will diminish by Thursday evening in the Bay of Chaleur region and become southerly.