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Updated: Thu, 13 Mar 2014 09:33:20 GMT | By CBC News, cbc.ca

Winter storm batters New Brunswick, closes schools



A couple shields themselves from blowing snow on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Ont., during a snow storm Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The storm is moving eastward and is expected to pummel the Maritimes before blowing into Newfoundland. Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press

A couple shields themselves from blowing snow on Clifton Hill in Niagara Falls, Ont., during a snow storm Wednesday, March 12, 2014. The storm is moving eastward and is expected to pummel the Maritimes before blowing into Newfoundland. Aaron Lynett/Canadian Press

A late winter storm is battering the Maritime provinces today, resulting in closed schools, hazardous driving conditions and scattered power outages.

New Brunswick is bearing the the brunt of the storm, with blizzard warnings remaining in effect in the northeast of the province.

As much as 40 centimetres of snow and blowing snow is likely to have accumulated in central and northern New Brunswick by the time the storm passes through later Thursday. Ice pellets and freezing rain are thrown into the mix in southern New Brunswick.

By early Thursday morning, more than 20 centimetres of snow had already fallen in some places, resulting in the closure of all public schools in New Brunswick.

"It's not the end of it," said CBC meterologist Peter Coade. "This snow goes all the way back just about to Lake Ontario, and all of this has to move across us before it clears tonight. So you could see another five or 10 centimetres before all is said and done."

As the system moves through the Maritimes, it will be taking its mix of snow, freezing rain and ice pellets to Newfoundland and Labrador, Coade said.

However, once the storm passes through, its effects will still be felt in New Brunswick, he said, noting that winds were gusting to 66 km/h at Moncton airport on Thursday morning.

"The wind is going to be staying strong, blowing around the snow that we have, creating near blizzard-like conditions," Coade said.

"It's not over til the paperwork is all done."

Blizzard warnings remain in place for northeastern New Brunswick while the rest of the province is under snow or winter storm warnings.

Environment Canada also has issued weather alerts in Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, with a flash freeze warning in effect for the Halifax area.

Nova Scotia saw mainly rain overnight, with some localized flooding in Dartmouth. More than 2,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were in the dark.

NB Power outages were reported in Fredericton and St. Stephen. At 7:30 a.m. AT, about 1,000 customers were without service. Road conditions in New Brunswick are poor.

Those responsible for maintaining the Trans-Canada Highway through the province were urging people to stay off the highway or limit travel if at all possible.

"If you have to go on it, drive with caution," said Ross Mathers, of Maritime Road Development Corporation, which operates the highway from Moncton to just west of Fredericton.

"If you don't have to, do it like the airports and close it down," he said. "Use your phone and phone ahead and say, 'I'm sorry, I can't make it today.'"

Mathers said the entire length of the highway his company maintains has snow- and ice-covered conditions.

"We've had a very heavy night with freezing rain," he said. "We've had over 20 centimetres of snow in Oromocto."

The highway from Longs Creek, west of Fredericton, to the Quebec border is maintained by Brun-way. Spokeswoman Felicia Murray says that highway system saw heavy snow, followed by ice pellets, which then turned back into snow.

"This type of storm results in snow-covered, icy roads, which is what you would experience if you are on the highway today," said Murray.

Windy conditions are causing drifting and poor visibility, she said.

"If at all possible, limit your travels to a minimum. It's pretty messy out there."

It is expected to be Thursday afternoon before the storm system has passed through the province onto Newfoundland.

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