Thousands without power, road conditions worsen as storm pummels New Brunswick

·4 min read
A pedestrian bundles up against the snow in uptown Saint John Friday afternoon. (Graham Thompson/CBC News - image credit)
A pedestrian bundles up against the snow in uptown Saint John Friday afternoon. (Graham Thompson/CBC News - image credit)

The winter storm hitting New Brunswick is causing power outages and problems on the highways, with snow and ice-covered surfaces and poor visibility being reported.

By 7 p.m. Friday, N.B. Power was reporting power outages affecting more than 2,600 residents across the province.

Thousands were without power on Grand Manan and in areas near the Bay of Fundy in south central New Brunswick, south of the Kennebecasis Valley. Outages were also reported west of Richibucto and in Campbellton.

The province's road conditions website, 511, posted several "travel not recommended" advisories, most of those across southern and central New Brunswick.

And SNC Lavalin, which oversees highway operations on the Trans-Canada Highway from just west of Fredericton to the Quebec border, flagged several problem areas and urged caution on the roads.

"It's not great," spokesperson Felicia Murphy told Shift New Brunswick late Friday afternoon.

From the Quebec border to Grand Falls in northern New Brunswick, roads are partly snow-covered with icy and slushy spots, and traffic is being diverted at the on-ramp at kilometre 58, Murphy said.

"A transport truck is blocking the ramp to the highway at kilometre 58 westbound and traffic is being diverted to the next on-ramp at kilometre 56," she said. "It will probably be a few hours before that's cleared up."

From Grand Falls to about Longs Creek, west of Fredericton, the highway is snow-covered and visibility is decreasing.

"There's some icy, slushy spots and ... motorists will notice that the visibility is getting worse if they're travelling eastbound" toward Fredericton, Murphy said.

"Keep your speeds low, make sure you keep a lot of space between yourself and the other vehicles and keep yourself plenty of time to get to your destination," Murphy said.

"If you don't have to travel, that's probably best."

N.B. Power was also reporting a handful of power outages in some areas Friday evening, including Grand Manan and areas just west of Bouctouche and Richibucto.

Heavy snowfall, high winds

Eastern and southern regions were told to expect 20 to 40 centimetres of snow and wind gusts up to 80 kilometres an hour.

The areas affected include the east coast, the Fundy coast and Grand Lake-Queen's County area, said Environment Canada.

Snow began falling Friday morning and was expected to end overnight.

By early afternoon, the RCMP was urging drivers not to take Route 2, the Trans-Canada Highway, between Jemseg and Moncton, and described road conditions as "extremely poor."

It issued a similar warning for Route 1 between St. Stephen and Petitcodiac East.

Storm surge warnings were issued by Environment Canada for the Moncton, Miramichi, Kouchibouguac and Kent County areas. The weather service says those areas should expect "significantly elevated" coastal water levels and pounding surf between 6 p.m. and 10 p.m.

"Very strong winds and low barometric pressure will coincide with high astronomical tide," the warning says.

"People close to the shoreline should stay on the lookout for worsening conditions."

Graham Thompson/CBC News
Graham Thompson/CBC News

Buses taken off roads, vaccine clinic closes early

Precipitation began with flurries in the morning, becoming heavier in the afternoon. It was expected to be heaviest in the afternoon and evening, said forecasters.

"Strong northerly winds will also develop later today and in conjunction with the fresh snowfall will result in poor visibility in blowing snow," the warning said.

The City of Dieppe closed all non-essential and recreational services.

Mount Allison University, Crandall University and the Saint John campus of University of New Brunswick have all closed. Moncton, Dieppe and Riverview public libraries have also closed.

In Saint John, the Saint John Transit Commission said it would pull all buses off the roads at 4 p.m. and suspend service for the rest of the day.

A vaccination clinic at Saint John's Exhibition Park also reduced its hours because of the weather, and decided to close at 4:30 p.m.

@Gov_NB

CBC meteorologist Tina Simpkin said the snow would be moving northeast quickly, and there could be a mix of snow and rain into the night. She said pockets along the coastline could get more rain than snow, but inland areas will get lots of snow.

The warning said visibility would be "suddenly reduced to near zero at times" and asked people to watch for transportation delays.

A special weather statement was issued for several other areas, including Fredericton, Oromocto, St. Stephen and the Stanley-Doaktown-Blackville area, where up to 15 centimetres of snow and wind gusts up to 70 kilometres an hour are expected.

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