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Massive storm moves into Newfoundland after pounding the Maritimes

Last Updated Feb 15, 2017 at 9:40 am EDT

A sidewalk plow moves snow in Dartmouth, N.S. on Tuesday, Feb. 14, 2017. A massive, slow-moving blizzard hit the region with public transit shut down in several communities and government offices were closed in Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and southern New Brunswick. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX – As a blizzard lashed Newfoundland with wind-driven snow Tuesday, Maritimers were still digging out from under a heavy snowfall that lasted more than 24 hours, only to be warned that another storm was on its way.

By late Tuesday afternoon, blizzard and blowing snow warnings remained in effect for Cape Breton and the east and south coasts of Newfoundland as the enormous, slow-moving storm continued its blustery trek east. Environment Canada then issued a series of new alerts, including winter storm warnings for southern New Brunswick, and winter storm watches for much of western Nova Scotia.

“(Newfoundland) will have less of a break than the Maritimes before the next storm,” said meteorologist Linda Libby.

About 15 centimetres of blowing snow is in forecast for southern New Brunswick, an area that saw up to 80 centimetres of snowfall Monday.

In eastern Newfoundland, schools were closed, public transit was shut down and virtually all flights were cancelled at St. John’s International Airport as the storm arrived in the morning and lingered throughout the day. The city of St. John’s was expected to get up to 60 centimetres of snow by Wednesday afternoon.

“All you see is white outside,” said Christina Hope, manager of the Tim Hortons on Torbay Road in St, John’s. She said the fast-food outlet would be closing early despite a steady flow of snow-covered coffee seekers. “You can sort of see across the street, but not very well.”

The winds over eastern Newfoundland were expected to peak at 80 and 100 kilometres per hour overnight and into Wednesday — a virtual repeat of what happened in southern New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and P.E.I. on Monday and Tuesday.

In Prince Edward Island, Canada Post said it wasn’t safe to deliver mail Tuesday. Mail service was also cancelled in eastern Newfoundland.

Marine Atlantic, the ferry service that links Nova Scotia with Newfoundland, cancelled crossings scheduled for Tuesday and Wednesday.

Meanwhile, schools and government offices and many businesses were closed for a second day throughout Nova Scotia, P.E.I. and New Brunswick. Dozens of arrivals and departures at Halifax Stanfield International Airport were either cancelled or delayed — again.

Libby said Monday’s snowfall broke some decades-old daily records in the Maritimes. She said the Halifax area officially received 50 centimetres in total, breaking the previous record for Feb. 13 of about 37 centimetres from 1953.

Halifax resident Jody Clarke was among several neighbours on his street either wielding a shovel or pushing a snowblower.

“We’re used to storms that hit with four or five hours of intense snow,” said Clarke, his hood pulled over his red tuque with a Canadian flag on the front.

“(But) this was 24 hours straight of blizzard-like conditions. You couldn’t move. The city was in lockdown. That’s the way it should have been. And we’re just digging out now,” he said. “We got about 60 centimetres, but when you’re shovelling, it feels like 100 centimetres.”

In Cape Breton, police were asking motorists to stay off the roads until the blizzard moved out to sea.

Vast areas of the Maritimes were snowed under Monday. The blizzard — dubbed the “Beast of the East” by one forecaster — dumped almost 80 cm of snow at Canadian Forces Base Gagetown in central New Brunswick. Powerful gusts that reached 120 kilometres per hour along the coast near Halifax created huge drifts throughout the port city.

In the Halifax region, customers of Heritage Gas were being told to make sure their natural gas meters are kept free of snow and ice buildup, and to clear any natural gas appliance vents to prevent “hazardous situations.”

By late Tuesday afternoon, Nova Scotia Power was reporting outages affecting about 2,700 customers, having reconnected more than 48,000 customers by Tuesday morning.