NEWS
01/04/2014 10:42 EST | Updated 03/06/2014 05:59 EST

Weather Woes In Canada: Blizzards, Blackouts, Deep Freezes

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People in Eastern Canada are bearing the brunt of an angry winter that unleashed its wrath yesterday and is still causing grief today, as many in blizzard-hit Newfoundland face power outages, the Maritimes cleans up, and the Prairies, Ontario and Quebec are warned about below-freezing temperatures.

CBC meteorologist Janine Baijnath said Saturday that Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular, has been seriously hit, with a blizzard that left about 38 centimetres of snow. Many Newfoundlanders awoke to no power due to the blizzard, after 48 hours of rolling outages that ended Friday night.

"In St. John's, winds are gusting to 90 kilometres an hour ... there are still blizzard warnings and wind warnings gusting to about 100 km/h in parts [of the city]," she said Friday morning. "This will continue for most of the morning until the system tracks to the northeast. The system is expected to taper off by later [Saturday] morning, but pick up an additional two to four centimetres of snow for parts of Newfoundland."

Among St. John's residents who awoke to no power was Mayor Dennis O'Keefe, who told CBC News early Saturday that he had been told "most, if not all, of the city has lost its power."

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said severe weather caused a fire in Sunnyside that led to a shutdown at the Holyrood Generating Station, causing a massive outage across the island. The provincial Crown corporation said it is working to restore power at Holyrood but it may take several hours.

Given high winds of over 100 km/h, O'Keefe said, it will be a struggle to keep local streets open, so he's urging people to use "discretion" and "common sense" when going out.

"If you don't have to be on the road, don't be on the road, and give the crews that are out working against the snow and against the wind a chance to make some headway," he said.

The storm is continuing on the Avalon Peninsula and parts of the east coast of the province.

Travel plans may be affected

Travel is also affected, with people heading to St. John's International Airport urged to reschedule arrangements as most flights are either cancelled or delayed, bus service essentially cancelled, and police urging drivers to stay off roads and highways if possible.

People booked to fly to Atlantic Canada from other parts of the country are also urged to check with their airlines on whether their flights are proceeding. Air Canada, for instance, said flights from Toronto's Pearson International Airport to Eastern Canada may be affected by the conditions in that part of the country.

Meanwhile, in the Maritimes, cleanup has begun after a horrendous storm that slammed much of the region.

Weather warnings across P.E.I. and Nova Scotia were lifted Saturday. For New Brunswick, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, as the low-pressure system bringing warmer temperatures to the rest of the Maritimes is expected to deliver a mixed bag of snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and rain on Monday.

People in Moncton, N.B., are being warned by the fire department to ensure snow is cleaned off their roofs, and from around basement windows, and dryer and natural gas vents. At least 80 centimetres of snow has accumulated on the ground in the last two weeks alone.

Temperatures are expected to fall back below freezing on Tuesday, which could mark trouble for road crews and drivers.

The Nova Scotia communities of Shelburne and Yarmouth received more than 19 centimetres of snow Friday, with much of the rest of the province receiving about 20 centimetres. The North Shore and northern Cape Breton received the least amount of snow — between five and 10 centimetres.

Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick also received between five and 10 centimetres.

Extreme cold, but alert over in Toronto

In Toronto, where there were reports of loud booms that have been blamed on so-called frost quakes, an extreme cold alert that began on Jan. 1 was cancelled Saturday. The freezing weather has led to overflowing homeless shelters, and caused pipes to freeze and burst.

The Toronto Transit System was also affected, with dozens of streetcars out of service due to freezing air brakes, and delays on Go Transit, the regional public transit service for the greater Toronto and Hamilton areas.

Baijnath said wind-chill warnings remain in effect in various parts of the country, including in Quebec, where it feels more like –30 C.

"As you head more toward the north, it feels more like –50, with the risk of frostbite to exposed skin," she said.

Cold is also funnelling in from parts of the Prairies, Baijnath said, with the wind chill making it feel like –38 in Saskatoon.

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