News / Halifax

Snowfall, rain warnings issued for Halifax, lengthy power outages possible

Nova Scotia Power is opening its emergency operations centre Wednesday night ahead of winter weather expected Thursday morning

A Halifax woman shields her face from wind-swept snow during a winter storm in February 2016.

Darren Calabrese/

A Halifax woman shields her face from wind-swept snow during a winter storm in February 2016.

With a messy winter storm brewing for Thursday, Nova Scotia Power officials are warning customers to be prepared for “potentially lengthy” outages.

The province’s utility is opening its emergency operations centre at 8 p.m. Wednesday in anticipation of the storm.

Environment Canada has issued a snowfall warning for the entire Halifax region. It says between 15 and 20 centimetres of snow can be expected from Thursday's storm, along with wind gusts of up to 100 km/h.

A rainfall warning is also in effect for Halifax, as forecasters say the snow is expected to quickly change to rain over southwestern Nova Scotia and parts of the coast.

Heavy rain will continue into the early evening Thursday, then end or taper to a few showers. Total rainfall amounts of 30 to 50 millimetres are expected.

Due to the frozen ground, the release said rain may initially freeze on contact with the cold ground and very little will be absorbed, so water pooling in low-lying areas is likely.

This latest system comes on the heels of a Christmas Day/Boxing Day storm with high winds that knocked out power for tens of thousands across the province. The last customers got power on Friday.

“Based on current forecasts with the high winds and heavy wet snow, we are anticipating power outages as a result of this, so we are strongly encouraging customers to be prepared for potentially lengthy outages as a result of this severe storm,” Nova Scotia Power spokesperson Tiffany Chase said in an interview.

“We know from the past that this type of weather can cause fallen trees on lines and damage to our equipment similar to what we saw last week. We would strongly encourage our customers to monitor local forecasts and make plans should there be power outages.”

Chase said the utility was working on Tuesday to secure additional contractor crews to work with its power line and forestry teams should restoration efforts be required.

“We certainly want to make sure that people are aware this storm is forecast to be quite severe and to be prepared for those power outages should they come,” she said.

In the Halifax area, last week’s storm resulted in about 150 calls to the city about broken tree limbs or trees that had come down across roadways.

There are about 180,000 street trees in HRM.

“I wasn’t that surprised about the intensity of the wind but I was surprised by how many trees were damaged… We’re still working away at cleaning up the brush but most of the trees that were down obstructing have been dealt with,” said Kevin Osmond, HRM’s supervisor of urban forestry.

“I’m certainly concerned about getting heavy snow, heavy snow and then rain and then wind on top of it. All that weight on the trees could be detrimental to the health of the trees again.”

The municipality isn’t responsible for the cleanup of private trees or debris from those trees.

“I think the biggest issue now is we’re trying to get as much of the brush dealt with and cleaned up as possible so that we don’t get a pile of snow on top of it and then potentially freezing again,” Osmond said.

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