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A day away: Weather bomb, blizzard imminent for East Coast

Digital writers

Wednesday, January 3, 2018, 11:18 AM - Widespread warnings have been issued as a major winter storm takes aim at Atlantic Canada. Over 40 cm of snow could wallop parts of New Brunswick.

The system is expected to develop just off the southeast coast of the US on Wednesday and will rapidly intensify as it tracks towards the Maritimes. This low is likely to be exceptionally strong, bringing blizzard conditions to New Brunwsick, and damaging winds to the entire region.

The storm qualifies as a 'weather bomb,' a meteorological term for a storm that features a drop in pressure of approximately 24 millibars over the course of 24 hours.  

"This translates to damaging winds, heavy snowfall and blizzard conditions," says Weather Network meteorologist Nadine Hinds-Powell.

See more on the exact timing and potential impacts below.

Visit our Complete Guide to Winter 2017/18  for tips on how to to survive it, and much more.


  • Thursday morning: Snow spreads into Nova Scotia through the mid-morning hours, and continues into P.E.I. and New Brunswick by early afternoon Thursday.
  • Thursday afternoon: Snow transitions and mixes with freezing rain/ice pellets before changing to rain in a band from west to east through Nova Scotia. Widespread snowfall across New Brunswick through the afternoon. Snow begins to spread from south to north across Newfoundland.
  • Thursday evening: Most of Nova Scotia and eastern P.E.I. (including Charlottetown) will have fully transitioned over to rain. The southern Avalon and Burin likely to see a band of freezing rain and ice pellets through the late evening hours that advances across the northern Avalon and Bonavista overnight.
  • Thursday overnight:  Blizzard conditions continue for much of New Brunswick, especially for eastern sections along the Northhumberland Strait. Rain begins to transition back to snow from west to east across Nova Scotia, and eastern P.E.I.  Snow pushes northward across Newfoundland, with light rain across southern and central sections by early Friday morning.  
  • Friday morning:  The precipitation will be ending across Nova Scotia, with temperatures dropping below freezing, and wet surfaces icing up, creating slick roads and sidewalks. Snowfall and blowing snow continues across eastern New Brunswick and P.E.I. as the low departs. As the low tracks into Quebec and Labrador, the heavier snowfall is pushed northward, with gusty winds long western Newfoundland, and milder temperatures across much of the eastern and central regions of Newfoundland.
  • Friday afternoon:  Sea-effect snow through the Bay of Fundy, and western Newfoundland, with west-southwesterly winds across the Maritimes and southwest across Newfoundland.


"The strongest wind gusts with this system will be between Thursday evening and Friday morning," says Hinds-Powell. "Coastal areas through the Bay of Fundy, coastal Nova Scotia and the east coast of New Brunswick will see gusts easily exceeding 110 km/h."

According to Hinds-Powell, the Atlantic coast of Nova Scotia toward Port Hawkesbury and southern Cape Breton will likely experience wind gusts over 120-130 km/h overnight Thursday into pre-dawn Friday.

Winds will be significantly lighter through Friday afternoon, but still gusting to 70-90+ km/h across west coast Newfoundland.


Between 30-40+ cm of snowfall is expected for eastern New Brunswick with 15-30 cm expected for western and central parts of the province.

"These regions will experience some of the worst conditions, with enhanced sea-effect snow due to strong gusty winds off the Gulf of St. Lawrence," Hinds-Powell warns. "Blizzard conditions are likely to persist from Thursday evening through the overnight."

For southern Nova Scotia, along the Atlantic coast, around five centimetres of snow is likely as mostly rain is expected. Meanwhile, western Nova Scotia and Annapolis could get up to 10-20 cm of snowfall, but this amount could vary depending on the track of the low.

Prince Edward Island is forecast to pick up 20-30+ cm of snow from east to west as the system pushes through.

"Prepare for quickly changing and deteriorating travel conditions," warns Environment Canada. "Visibility will be suddenly reduced to near zero at times in heavy snow and blowing snow. Road closures are possible." 

Emergency preparations underway:

With major impact expected from this storm, Nova Scotia Power will activate its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC) at 8 p.m. on Wednesday. New Brunswick's Emergency Measures Organization also issued a weather advisory on Tuesday warning residents to be prepared for any type of emergency, including power outages.

"In preparation, we're stationing powerline crews and forestry teams across the province, and we're staffing up our Customer Care Centre," says Nova Scotia Power's storm lead, Matt Drover. "We will be ready to respond to customer outages as quickly as it is safe to do so." 

Customers are urged to make the necessary preparations as the severity of the storm and impact on travel could impede crews in early response to outages. Officials say having an emergency kit that keeps your family healthy for at least 72 hours is crucial. Your kit should include:

  • At least six litres of water per person (two litres per day).
  • Food that won't spoil, like canned and dry foods.
  • Manual can opener.
  • First aid kit. 
  • Battery powered flashlight and radio. 
  • Extra keys for your house and car.


Check back often as we continue to monitor this forecast.

YEAR IN REVIEW: How Earth's climate changed in 2017

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