With the first storm of 2018 shaping up to be a big one, Maritimers may need to reassess how they prepare for foul winter weather.
“Any storm like this, which pretty well might be the biggest storm of the winter so far, always brings surprises,” said Dominic Fewer, planning officer for the Nova Scotia Emergency Management Office.
Earlier this week, Environment Canada released a winter storm warning for Nova Scotia, calling for heavy snow, rain and high winds to hit the province today.
The storm could bring 20 to 30 cm of snow and 20 to 30 mm of rain, along with winds of 90 to 110 km/h.
Along with the typical risks of power outages, inaccessible roads and loss of heat, there are elements to the storm people may not have thought about. For example, high winds could blow away unsecured lawn furniture or property, and flooding from blocked water runoff can cause flooding.
“People haven’t quite readied themselves for the winter because, other than the Christmas storm, we haven’t had a lot of snowfall or wind of this type,” said Fewer.
“If they don’t prepare their homes for the storm, especially the winds, they may have some issues that will take them by surprise.”
The Truro Homeless Outreach Society recently opened its new shelter, Hub House, which provides overnight shelter for those in need.
Although the shelter is open nights, it doesn’t operate during the day, leaving many to seek shelter in other public areas like the mall or the library. But they could be shown the door, too.
“With our guests, if there is incoming bad weather, we give out $5 Tim Horton’s cards. It’s enough to buy them a few coffees, and will get them a few hours inside a warm place without getting kicked out for loitering.”
The Truro Police also keep an eye out for those stuck in the cold during storms and offer to help any way they can.
“If we find a vulnerable person out in a storm, we provide any and all assistance needed to keep them safe,” said Inspector Rob Hearn of the Truro Police.
“We often reach out to family members to help. If they are not available, then we seek assistance from various community organizations like the homeless shelter or church groups that specialize in providing that type of assistance.
“On occasion we have allowed people to stay in our front lobby until the storm passes or shelter is found.”
The storm is set to make its way over Nova Scotia this afternoon and throughout the evening. While it should wrap up by Saturday, Fewer said it’s the storm’s outcome everyone should plan for.
“The actual storm itself is probably about a two-day storm, but the impact of the storm could reach into a number of days,” he said.
“If there are power outages, depending on where they are, the road conditions and how many outages there are, all of these things impact how long it will take to fix them. It could be sunny after the storm, but there might not be power, or the roads may not be cleared.
“These are things we won’t know until it happens.”