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Bitter cold settles over Maritimes following nor'easter

Digital writers

Saturday, January 6, 2018, 8:49 PM - Maritimers are bracing for an Arctic blast, following a powerful nor'easter that slammed Atlantic Canada with hurricane-force winds and nearly 60 cm of snow in parts.

The monster storm developed at an unprecedented rate on Thursday, achieving "weather bomb" status.

"This was the strongest intensification of a storm in the western Atlantic Ocean in four decades," says The Weather Network meteorologist Erin Wenckstern. "It unofficially dropped 59 mb in 24 hours."

For a storm to be officially declared a bomb-cyclone, the pressure has to plummet at least 24 millibars (mb) in 24 hours.

In the days following the storm, utility companies worked to restore power through all three Maritime provinces, with Nova Scotia worst hit in terms of outages. On Saturday morning, Nova Scotia power said in a statement they had restored power to over 275,000 customers who lost power on Thursday and Friday. As of 8 p.m. Saturday, power had been restored to all but 30 customers throughout province.

Nor'easter Highlights:

  • Power outages: At the height of the storm Friday morning, more than 130,000 customers were left in the dark. Nova Scotia power said on Saturday they had restored power to 275,000 customers who lost power on Thursday and Friday. Outages in New Brunswick peaked at roughly 19,000 customers, with power restored to all as of Saturday night. CBC News reports that outages in PEI peaked at 5,700 customers, restores to all but 15 by Friday evening.
  • Highest winds: Peak wind gusts of 170 km/h observed in Grand Etang, Nova Scotia, and 174 km/h in Wreckhouse, Newfoundland. Peak and record-breaking gust of 119 km/h in Halifax.
  • Highest snow: Bathurst, New Brunswick picked up 58 cm of snow, which reported visibility of 400 metres and below for 10 hours.
  • Thundersnow: Snow in Sydney, Nova Scotia was falling at a rate of eight centimetres an hour, with thundersnow and visibility under 200 metres reported.
  • Wave heights: Two buoys recorded wave heights of 56 and 51 feet south of Nova Scotia.
  • Atmospheric pressure: Saint John, New Brunswick recorded lowest atmospheric pressure at 951 mb.

Bitter cold

It will feel like the minus 30s through Sunday as Arctic air grips the Maritimes.

Damage assessment and clean up begins:

Officials say fallen trees, damaged roads and debris from the storm's heavy impact are hindering recovery efforts. 

"As of this morning (SATURDAY), we have safely restored power to over 275,000 customers who lost service on Thursday and Friday due to the storm,” said Stephen Pothier, Nova Scotia Power storm lead in a news release.

There are over 1,000 storm response members, including frontline powerline and forestry crews, damage assessors, planners, engineers, support staff, and customer care representatives, according to the utility.

"We have more contractor crews coming in today to help us get power back on for all customers as quickly as possible," said Pothier. "Assessors are in the field visually inspecting each outage area to help inform our work planning and dispatch of crews throughout the day."

Several buildings have been damaged, and at high tide, the storm surge flooded parts of Halifax's waterfront boardwalk, completely moving a Canada 150 sign.

As fierce winds and rain whipped through Nova Scotia, heavy snow prompted endless travel advisories across New Brunswick on Thursday and early Friday. The province's Emergency Measures Organization advised residents to stay at home and avoid unnecessary travel.

The Halifax Regional Municipality said in a statement on Friday that Halifax Transit had returened to a regular schedule, as had "most other municipal services." 

Marine Atlantic cancelled sailings between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland, as well as Bay Ferries between Nova Scotia and New Brunswick. 

The Confederation Bridge linking New Brunswick and P.E.I. was closed to all traffic on Thursday night, but later reopened to all traffic as conditions improved.

Watch below: Space view: 'Weather bomb' captured by NASA satellites

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