Winter storm hits Maritimes with blowing snow, rain

A bus carrying 30 people slid off an icy highway in P.E.I. Sunday evening, as a winter storm continued to howl through the Maritimes.

RCMP said the Maritime Bus motor coach landed next to a power pole on Route 2, near Summerside. Everyone escaped, but a few people were taken to the Prince County Hospital with minor injuries.

Many passengers waited at a nearby home until a smaller bus arrived to take them to Charlottetown.

Mike Cassidy, owner of the bus line, said the coach was blown off the highway by high winds.

"The driver explained it to us. The bus went over to the shoulder, nosed into the ditch and just kind of toppled onto its side," he told CBC News.

The accident happened at 5 p.m. AT, as the second winter storm in a few days blanketed most of the Maritimes.

Flurries hit the western Maritimes late Saturday.

Environment Canada said the intense nor'easter brought nearly 40 centimetres of snow to parts of southern New Brunswick, while about 15 to 20 centimetres was forecast for Prince Edward Island by Sunday evening.

About 20 centimetres of snow was expected to fall in northern Nova Scotia and blowing snow warnings were issued for much of the province.

Meanwhile, people living in southeastern areas of Nova Scotia awoke to less snow than they expected. By mid-morning, the snow had turned into a wet mix of rain and ice pellets.

"It's just a slushy mess," the CBC's Michael Dick reported.

A small warehouse in Dartmouth collapsed under the weight of heavy snow Sunday afternoon, but no one was hurt.

An official with the Halifax regional fire service said the building on Fairbanks Street was empty.

"It's a small warehouse and looks like it rotted through [with] water damage and had some kind of structural collapse due to the weight of the snow. It may be repairable, but it doesn't look like it," said Pat Kline, acting division commander.

Environment Canada ended the blizzard warning for Nova Scotia in the afternoon. But Cape Breton and northern areas of the province are under wind and blowing snow warnings.

New Brunswick and P.E.I. are bracing for more snow and rain.

On Prince Edward Island, people are being warned to stay away from the shorelines and roads in Prince Edward Island National Park because of the high water and rough surf.

Police are continuing to urge motorists to stay off the slippery roads throughout the three Maritime provinces.

"If you are out and about there's the usual message of slow down, allow extra distance between vehicles and take your time," siad RCMP Cpl. Scott MacRae. "If you do see somebody in trouble or the emergency personnel on the side of the road please give them a lot of space because they are trying to help anyone out there who may have slipped off the road."

There have been a couple of accidents in Nova Scotia due to slippery conditions, but the RCMP said no one has been seriously injured.

In New Brunswick, there were reports of drifting snow on roads around Sussex and Fredericton. Roads are snow covered through much of the south and eastern parts of the province.

Maritime Bus is facing its first big storm since it took over regional transportation in early December.

Driver Bill Macmillan said when bad weather hits, he's prepared to take his time to get passengers to their destination safely.

"I'm concerned about it. I've learnt from experience that ice means slow down. The worse the conditions the slower I go," he said.

The Confederation Bridge is open to all traffic, but high winds could cause problems for travellers heading to and from P.E.I.

There were a few reported power outages in Nova Scotia Sunday morning. About 2,800 customers spent hours without power in Clare, Liverpool, Pubnico, Shelburne and Guysborough County.

About 300 customers in the Bridgetown area lost power late Sunday afternoon. They were told the lights would be back on by 11 p.m.

Nova Scotia Power said it brought in extra staff ahead of the storm to minimize the impact of the storm on the power grid.

Early Sunday morning about 3,000 customers in Moncton were in the dark. Most of their power has been restored but 1,205 customers in Bouctouche are now experiencing a power outage.

So far there are no reported power outages on P.E.I.

Both the arrivals and departures boards at Halifax Stanfield International Airport were a sea of red Sunday morning. Many flights were cancelled or delayed.

Three departing flights and four arriving flights at Saint John Airport were cancelled Sunday. There are also a few flight cancellations and delays at airports in Moncton and Fredericton.

Most Maritime departures and arrivals scheduled for Sunday afternoon are running on time.

On P.E.I., the morning flight to Halifax was cancelled.

The Halifax Stanfield International Airport is warning passengers to check their flight's status before leaving for the airport.

The poor weather has also forced the cancellation of the Marine Atlantic ferry between Newfoundland and Cape Breton.

Bay Ferries cancelled its two runs Sunday between Saint John, N.B., and Digby, N.S.

Eastern Canada had just finished cleaning up after being blasted by another winter storm late last week.

Parts of New Brunswick were hit with between 20 and 38 centimetres of snow and in some places freezing rain.

That system then headed up to Newfoundland, where about 25 centimetres fell on the northeast coast and central parts of the island.

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