All schools in the Chignecto-Central Regional School Board, including those in Cumberland, Colchester and Pictou Counties along with the Municipality of East Hants, will be closed today
The Department of Environment and Natural Resources wants people to be prepared for a lot of snow and a messy winter storm Thursday.
The agency has issued a weather warning for Pictou County, as hazardous winter weather conditions are expected to descend on Nova Scotia. The storm is expected to bring a total snowfall amount of 25 centimetres by Thursday evening. That will eventually change to rain in many parts of the province, as temperatures rise.
Those who need to travel are advised to drive with caution, since the storm will bring heavy snow, as well as blowing snow, creating very poor visibility.
Easterly winds are expected to reach gusting speeds of 80 km/h on Thursday afternoon. In more exposed areas, winds are expected to gust as high as 100 km/h and up to 110km/h in coastal areas – areas prone to the strongest winds.
On Thursday night, exposed areas are expected to get winds gusting up to over 100 km/h.
According to the weather warning, the origin of today’s storm is a low-pressure system developing east of Florida, intensifying as it moves northward and approaches the Maritime Provinces.
By Friday, the storm is anticipated to move into the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Jacques Michaud, chargehand with New Glasgow engineering and public works, said there are a number of preparations members of his department carry out for storms as severe as the one expected today.
“Our protocol is that we check all equipment, take out everything and make sure all the fluids and fuel are checked in the vehicles,” said Michaud. “We make sure the power tools are ready to go – we always have to have that to be ready to go, because sometimes trees blow down, and things like that.”
Michaud said the department also makes sure flashlights and generators are ready to go, before the storm, “so that when the bad weather comes, we’re not caught with our pants down.”
Another preparation for ugly weather, of course, is to have staff working longer hours than normal, said Michaud.
“Usually, we have a couple of trucks working out in the storm, and plan the cleanup depending on the weather forecasted,” said Michaud.
The majority of the department’s efforts is focused on cleanup after the storm, he noted, adding that “we don’t do major cleanup in the middle of the storm, because we’d be wasting everyone’s time and energy, and employees would get burned out and there’d be no one to replace them.”
Instead, the department checks the forecast, and starts the brunt of the cleanup a few hours before the storm abates.
“The storm has to come to an end at some point, so if the snow is ending at 8 a.m., we start at 4 a.m., because we don’t want to start too early and end up doing everything two or three times over,” said Michaud.
This year, Michaud said the department is prepared for the possibility of flooding as well, since rain is in the forecast.
“We’ve checked up on some of the catch pits and drains around town checked and cleared up for the storm.”