Powerful storm brings heavy snow and destructive winds to Atlantic Canada and Prairies


A powerful storm brought heavy snow, damaging winds, and frozen precipitation across Atlantic Canada on Monday, March 29, 2021, resulting in travel disruptions, suspension of classes, and damaged homes. Wind gusts of up to 164 km/h (102 mph) were recorded in Nova Scotia, while multiple power outages were reported in Newfoundland and parts of the Prairies. The next storm threatens eastern Ontario and southern Quebec on Thursday, April 1.

In Newfoundland, many roofs were blown away from homes as the storm brought damaging winds and heavy snow.

The severe weather caused numerous power outages, school delays and cancelations, and travel disruptions, with ferries shut down on Monday. Motorists were warned of reduced visibilities due to blowing snow. 

The intense, low-pressure system also delivered a blast of heavy rain and snow to New Brunswick and strong winds in Nova Scotia.

St. Joseph du Moine, Grand Etang, and Plateau on Cape Breton Island in Nova Scotia saw violent wind gusts of 164 km/h (102 mph), 159 km/h (99 mph) and 151 km/h (94 mph), respectively.

Other notable wind speeds were 108 km/h (67 mph) in Eskasoni First Nation and 102 km/h (64 mph) in Brier Island, The Weather Network reports.

Conditions improved in parts of the region by night, but winds remained intense in Newfoundland before diminishing on March 30.

The Canadian Prairies were also hit by an impactful storm on March 29 and 30, with strong winds and dangerous blowing snow conditions.

Multiple highways were closed in Saskatchewan due to deteriorating road conditions, including all highways in and around Biggar, Kindersley, the Battlefords, Rosetown, Swift Current, and Unity.

"We saw a little bit of freezing rain (and) ice pellets. At 11:00 UTC (05:00 LT), the snow started to kick in," said Jenny Hagan, a severe weather chaser in the area for over 10 years.

"About 11:30 UTC (05:30 LT), visibility started to get really bad. And now it is whiteout conditions, zero visibility in the area."

Hagan noted that this was the third major storm to hit the area this winter season. "We saw the record-breaking snowfall there in November. We had a great blizzard here in January, and this would be about the same kind of blizzard again now."

SaskPower reported numerous power outages in several regions — with more than 14 000 customers without power at the height of the storm. "It’s largely just the wind that’s causing all of the issues, but the snow certainly not helping," said spokesperson Scott McGregor. 

"The conductor line starts to sway back and forth and either come into contact with itself or potentially bring the structure that is on down. You have structures coming down. You also have debris getting blown up and coming into contact with lines."

"Because of the deteriorating weather patterns in the western part of the province, a lot of crews can’t actually leave because a lot of highways are closed, a lot of the conditions just aren’t conducive to do repair safely."

Conditions are expected to warm up through Wednesday, March 31, with highs reaching back to about 10 °C (50 °F) by Thursday, April 1.

The Weather Network meteorologists warn the next storm threatens eastern Ontario and southern Quebec on Thursday, April 1.

With frigid air being ushered in from northern Ontario, combined with coastal moisture flows in from the east, the west side of the storm may deliver a significant swath of snow over Ottawa, Montreal, Quebec City, and areas east of the latter.

Featured image credit: Shawna Park

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