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Updated: Sun, 05 Jan 2014 01:32:23 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Weather woes in Canada: Blizzards, blackouts, deep freezes



A fierce storm lashed across central and eastern Newfoundland Friday. CBC

A fierce storm lashed across central and eastern Newfoundland Friday. CBC

Winter is keeping its relentless reign in Eastern Canada. As Ontario readies for another winter storm and the Prairies face extreme wind chill warnings, tens of thousands of Newfoundlanders remain without power in the wake of Friday's blizzard. 

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement Saturday night for much of southern Ontario, warning of heavy snowfalls for Sunday, with mixed precipitation in some parts. 

The winter storm, now developing over Oklahoma, will intensify and track northeastward into Ontario, the weather agency said. Monday will be windy and sharply colder with some blowing snow and snow squalls.

Wind chill warnings are in effect for northwestern Ontario, as another blast of Arctic air invaded the region Saturday night. Temperatures are expected to plummet to –30 C to –35 C. With wind chills, it will feel more like –40 C Saturday night and into Sunday morning.

The extreme cold is likely to persist into Tuesday, Environment Canada said.

Meanwhile in Newfoundland, about 87,000 customers were without power as of 10:30 p.m. local time, according to the utility's Twitter feed. That number is down from a high of 190,000 Saturday morning when the outage started and 110,000 at 8:00 p.m.

The number fluctuated throughout Saturday as repairs and high demand for power pull the system in opposite directions.

CBC meteorologist Janine Baijnath said Saturday that Newfoundland and Labrador, in particular, has been seriously hit with a blizzard that left about 38 centimetres of snow. Many Newfoundlanders awoke to no power, after 48 hours of rolling outages that ended Friday night.  

Service on the island might not be restored until Monday or Tuesday, according to Newfoundland Power.

Crews from Prince Edward Island are expected to arrive Monday to help with restoration efforts.

Among St. John's residents who awoke to no power was Mayor Dennis O'Keefe, who told CBC News early Saturday that he had been told "most, if not all, of the city has lost its power."

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro said severe weather caused a fire in Sunnyside, NL that led to a shutdown at the Holyrood Generating Station, causing a massive outage across the island.

There were no injuries and the fire was under control by Saturday afternoon, officials said. The provincial agency said it is working to restore operations at Holyrood, but has not given a time frame.  

Given high winds of over 100 km/h, O'Keefe said, it will be a struggle to keep local streets open, so he's urging people to use "discretion" and "common sense" when going out.

"If you don't have to be on the road, don't be on the road, and give the crews that are out working against the snow and against the wind a chance to make some headway," he said.

The storm is continuing on the Avalon Peninsula and parts of the east coast of the province.

Travel plans may be affected

Travel is also affected, with people heading to St. John's International Airport urged to reschedule arrangements as most flights are either cancelled or delayed, bus service essentially cancelled, and police urging drivers to stay off roads and highways if possible.

​People booked to fly to Atlantic Canada from other parts of the country are also urged to check with their airlines on whether their flights are proceeding. Air Canada, for instance, said flights from Toronto's Pearson International Airport to Eastern Canada may be affected by the conditions in that part of the country.

Meanwhile, in the Maritimes, cleanup has begun after a horrendous storm that slammed much of the region.

Weather warnings across P.E.I. and Nova Scotia were lifted Saturday. For New Brunswick, Environment Canada has issued a special weather statement, as the low-pressure system bringing warmer temperatures to the rest of the Maritimes is expected to deliver a mixed bag of snow, ice pellets, freezing rain and rain on Monday. 

People in Moncton, N.B., are being warned by the fire department to ensure snow is cleaned off their roofs, and from around basement windows, and dryer and natural gas vents. At least 80 centimetres of snow has accumulated on the ground in the last two weeks alone.

Temperatures are expected to fall back below freezing on Tuesday, which could mark trouble for road crews and drivers.

The Nova Scotia communities of Shelburne and Yarmouth received more than 19 centimetres of snow Friday, with much of the rest of the province receiving about 20 centimetres. The North Shore and northern Cape Breton received the least amount of snow — between five and 10 centimetres.

Prince Edward Island and New Brunswick also received between five and 10 centimetres. 

Wind chills across the Prairies

Baijnath said wind-chill warnings remain in effect in various parts of the country, including in Quebec, where it feels more like –30 C.

"As you head more toward the north, it feels more like –50 C, with the risk of frostbite to exposed skin," she said.

In Toronto, where there were reports of loud booms that have been blamed on so-called frost quakes, an extreme cold alert that began on Jan. 1 was cancelled Saturday as the mercury rose to around the freezing point. The recent deep freeze weather led to overflowing homeless shelters, burst pipes and transit disruptions. 

The Toronto Transit System saw dozens of streetcarsknocked out of service due to freezing air brakeswhile delays hit the regional bus and train service GO Transit.

The Toronto area is still recovering from the December ice storm that, at its peak, left some 300,000 hydro customers shivering in the dark. Power was restored to the last of them only a few days ago. 

Further west, the Prairie provinces, including all of Saskatchewan, were blanketed by extreme wind chill warnings. The wind chill is expected to go as low as –50 C in some parts of the province over the weekend, according to Environment Canada. 

Those warnings remain in effect until Monday. 

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