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Stormwatch diary: Moncton, New Brunswick

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Suzanne Leonard
Weather Broadcaster

Friday, April 4, 2014, 1:40 -

Two big storms in less than a week: a follow up Nor’easter just three days after the record setting ‘weather bomb’ on March 26, 2014. Late Friday I get the call, “Can you hop on a plane to Moncton in the morning to join Nathan Coleman for Stormwatch?” Love weather, love to travel, love the Maritimes – it’s an easy decision.

Moncton, New Brunswick – Saturday March 29, 2014

The downtown park on the Petitcodiac River is a neat place to start our Stormwatch coverage. The bleachers here are crowded in summer time as people watch professional surfers ride the tidal bore, a massive wave. Today it's deserted. The sun is peaking through and temperatures are above zero but everywhere in Moncton the snowbanks are huge.

You meet some real characters on Main Street on a Saturday night. Just like our afternoon stop here, it seems Moncton residents are aware of the imminent storm but are going ahead with “business as usual” – though some are more upbeat about it than others.

Maritimers really seem to love their weather and their Weather Network. Halifax-based video journalist Nathan Coleman is a familiar face and many people stop to say hello or tell him a story. It’s not just a ‘Saturday night thing,’ this happens regularly during our three day Stormwatch visit.

Moncton, New Brunswick – Sunday March 30, 2014

Morning time and as forecast, temperatures have dropped to near zero and a cool wind blows from the east with a light snow falling. The storm has begun.

Our sister station Meteo Media (based in Montreal) asked for a storm update from Moncton so I file my first report en français…

Big shovels, big snow banks, big equipment for big storms. It occurs to me that “They do things big in the Maritimes.” I say it, it sounds good - I keep saying it. The snow continues to pick up bringing with it whiteout conditions. This will prove to be merely phase 1 for Moncton.

Into the afternoon it’s phase 2 for precipitation. Warm air aloft with this slow moving storm brings in a sleety mix of ice pellets and freezing rain. Pretty wet and windy down at the Petitcodiac River park again – and some very deep and slushy puddles are growing back on Main Street.

Temperatures remain near zero through the evening, precipitation has become steady freezing rain. In northern New Brunswick snow is piling up. Parts of Nova Scotia are dealing with plenty of rain. Here in Moncton, our hotel parking lot is beginning to look like a skating rink.

It’s going to be a nasty start Monday morning for people trying to get off to work. Vehicles are iced shut, sidewalks and roads are becoming slippery and dangerous. With snow to the north and rain to the south, Moncton is really in the ‘ice zone.’ It’s a miserable night – icy, wet, cold and windy. Like elsewhere in Canada road crews are a vital part of helping locals deal with winter storms.

Moncton, New Brunswick – Monday March 31, 2014

Monday morning and the storm is now leaving its mark: most schools are closed in New Brunswick, Marine Atlantic ferries out of Sydney Nova Scotia are cancelled, there are travel delays which could affect people trying to get to the East Coast Music Week events in Prince Edward Island.

The ice accretion on the trees where we are is already at least 5mm. There are about 12,000 customers without power in New Brunswick, by evening time that number will have quadrupled. Our hotel lounge is hosting a number of storm-stayed visitors, and will be fully booked by late day as locals seek a warmer refuge.

The freezing precipitation would end up lasting into Tuesday for some parts of the Maritimes - the big winner was Sydney, NS, at 49 hours. Not the biggest storm of the season but a slow mover and one of the most significant for freezing rain and ice pellets, bringing a very active and messy end to March.

With all the freezing rain, travel delays and strong winds, I wonder if I’ll actually make it home to Toronto Monday night. The end of my Maritime adventure:

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