TRURO - March may have come in like a lamb but it was determined to go out with the collective roar of a pride of lions, as a major winter blizzard stormed through the region on Wednesday.
© HARRY SULLIVAN – TRURO DAILY NEWS
Visibility on the streets and highways in the Truro area was virtually nil by early afternoon Wednesday as a late March storm continued to intensify throughout the day.
Light snow started to fall during the late morning and then quickly turned into a full winter blast around the noon-hour period as winds predicted to hit as high as 115 km per hour turned otherwise soft flakes into piercing, cold slivers of pain.
Nearly all stores and businesses shut down operations for the day and by early afternoon traffic on the 100 series highways had become almost non-existent, although a few truckers and other motorists braved conditions and fought blinding whiteouts that reduced visibility to scant metres.
Nonetheless, by mid afternoon, Truro Police Service Insp. Rob Hearn confirmed with the Truro Daily News that no accidents had been reported up to that point. And while most streets remained almost bare of traffic once the snow and wind started, Hearn issued a warning to any diehards not to venture out unless absolutely necessary.
"If you don't need to go out, don't," Hearn warned of severe road conditions.
A Colchester RCMP official reported "several minor" accidents that occurred throughout the county, including a rollover in Upper Stewiacke on Stewart Hill Road. However, no major injuries were reported from that accident.
Transportation and Infrastructure Renewal Minister Geoff MacLellan had also earlier cautioned about the potential for hazardous driving conditions.
"Stay off the roads if possible, but if you must travel, check the 511 road information line for updates," MacLellan said. "Be especially aware for possible closures in windy areas such as the Canso Causeway, the Cobequid Pass, and the Tantramar Marshes."
Dave Fiddes, owner of Dave Fiddes Lawn and Property Management and Snow Plowing, said his workday began at about 8:30 a.m. salting in preparation of the storm.
"I'll be staying out," he said at about 2:30 p.m. surrounded by whiteout conditions.
"Some facilities need to be cleared out in case of an emergency."
He said there are senior's facilities and other institutions, which he is responsible for clearing snow from, that need to be accessible 24-7, despite weather conditions.
He said blowing wind and drifting snow were making it challenge to keep his client's properties clear.
"The visiblity is near zero a lot of the time," he said.
By mid afternoon, the most common form of vehicles braving the day's condition were private plow trucks, as operators struggled to stay abreast of the drifting conditions.
Still, Derek MacKenzie, of MacKenzie's Towing in Truro, said they had only received about 10 service calls by 2:30 p.m.
"We haven't been too busy," he said. "Where everything is shut down and schools closed, I think everybody is staying home."
As far as the road conditions were concerned, "you can't see anything," he said.
The Colchester Central Regional School Board closed all schools Wednesday, as did the Nova Scotia Community College Truro campus and the Dalhousie Agricultural Campus.
Truro Mall was one of several businesses that did not open at all on Wednesday. Likewise for the County of Colchester municipal offices, where officials made the advance decision on Tuesday to shut down for the day so staff would not have to be on the roads after the storm hit.
Despite the liberal dumping of fresh snow, Ski Wentworth remained closed due to forecasted high winds and blizzard conditions.
"We cannot safely run the lifts with the predicted high wind speeds and gusts. Batten down the hatches, we'll re-open Thursday morning just as soon as we can and enjoy some great skiing and riding," said a post from the Ski Wentworth Facebook page.
Environment Canada was predicting that the snow would become mixed with rain by early evening, with further snowfall amounts predicted of up to five to 10 cm.
Blowing snow conditions were expected to continue into the latter part of the afternoon, with northeast winds of 60 km/h gusting to 90 km/h and later northwest winds of 70 km/h gusting to 100 km/h by evening. The winds were predicted to diminish to 50 km/h to 80 km/h before morning when temperatures were expected to hit a low of - 6.
Snow flurries were predicted to end in the morning, although local blowing snow conditions were expected to continue for several more hours.
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See a slideshow of Colchester County storm day photos.