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ATLANTIC | Active winter pattern

Atlantic: Messy system sparks widespread closures

Digital writers

Wednesday, February 13, 2019, 7:09 AM - The next major weather maker is edging into Atlantic Canada, with a day of heavy snow and messy icy precipitation in the cards for much of the Maritimes. Numerous school closures were announced across the region early Wednesday as the storm began its march into southern New Brunswick and Nova Scotia. We break what to expect with this next winter storm, including who stands to see more than 35 cm of snow, below.


  • Widespread snow 10 to 15 cm, higher amounts for New Brunswick, P.E.I.
  • Period of freezing rain, ice pellets lifts north through region through Wednesday/Thursday
  • Strong winds through Wednesday for Maritimes, picking up Thursday for Newfoundland
  • Much colder behind system
  • (Keep on top of active weather with our ALERTS page)



New Brunswick and Nova Scotia saw the leading edge of the storm pushing in through the pre-dawn hours Wednesday with a leading band of snow and blowing snow. This initial wave will give way to ice pellets and freezing rain through the morning in the south.

CBC News reported that all P.E.I. public schools were closed on Wednesday, with widespread closures also reported in Nova Scotia. All anglophone and francophone school districts were also closed for New Brunswick, and the Department of Infrastructure did not recommend travel on a number of major roads in the province, according to CBC News.

By lunchtime, expect that icy mix to be moving into Halifax, Fredericton, and Cumberland and Colchester counties, with heavy snow persisting for the rest of New Brunswick, P.E.I., and Cape Breton Island. Extreme southern Nova Scotia may see a changeover to rain through the afternoon hours, but a persistent freezing rain or freezing drizzle is also possible. Snow will also move into western Newfoundland through the afternoon, reaching the Avalon through the evening.

By Wednesday evening, the band of icy mix will be edging into P.E.I. and Cape Breton island, while the change back to snow will begin for southern New Brunswick as the system starts to shift east. A large dry area follows immediately behind the band of icy mixed precipitation, and that means that freezing rain and ice pellets will clear out rather abruptly through the late evening and early overnight hours for Nova Scotia. New Brunswick and P.E.I. can expect a full changeover back to flurries through the overnight hours Wednesday into Thursday, with the precipitation ending early Thursday.

For Newfoundland, snow will be the main feature of this system, although some ice is likely to mix in for the east, primarily for the Avalon, early Thursday morning. Accumulations will be on the lower side for Newfoundland as the system beings to weaken as it moves in, however flurries and onshore snow squalls will continue through Thursday.

All told, the hardest hit areas are likely to be central and northern New Brunswick, with 25 to 35 cm -- locally more -- expected by the time snow tapers off early Thursday. A widespread 10 to 15 centimetres are expected across most of the rest of the region, with the mix of ice pellets and freezing rain limiting amounts for southern Nova Scotia, and the weakening of the system serving to limit amounts for Newfoundland.

Strong winds will exacerbate poor travel conditions on Wednesday across the Maritimes as gusts spur white out conditions and poor visibility. Gusts in excess of 80 km/h are expected across much of the Maritimes on Wednesday, especially for exposed coastal regions along the Bay of Fundy, eastern Nova Scotia,and Cape Breton. Winds will pick up for Newfoundland Wednesday night into Thursday as the low pressure centre draws closer.



The active storm track continues for Atlantic Canada beyond this snowy system, and initial indications are we'll see a brief return to rainier weather before another harsh cold snap. "The next system will track north and west of the Maritimes and pump mild air into the region with primarily rain (ending as snow for New Brunswick) for Friday night across the Maritimes," says Weather Network meteorologist Dr. Doug Gillham. "It also looks like primarily a rain event for Newfoundland, but changing to snow for western Newfoundland."

Much colder air is expected to return behind this system, and that means a chilly end to the weekend and start to next week. The colder, more southerly storm track is also expected to persist into next week, and there is another snowy-looking system on the horizon. "The main question is whether storms will stay south of the region or track far enough north to bring snow to southern areas," says Gillham.

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