Back-to-back storms to hit province

Nancy MacPhee
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Each system to bring at least 15 cm of snow, hitting Prince County hardest

SUMMERSIDE — It’s going to be a messy Valentine’s Day and an even messier Islander Day weekend, as back-to-back winter storms wallop the Island.

A man walks along a Summerside street during a recent storm. File photo

Environment Canada meteorologist Claude Cote said Prince County will be hit hardest, with 15 to 25 centimetres of snow expected to blanket the county with each of the storm systems, the first of which starting Thursday night and the second Saturday evening.

“It is a significant one. It’s hard to tell if it is going to be the one of this winter, but it is a significant storm system,” Cote said of the first system. “That system has already developed (Wednesday) morning in the Gulf of Mexico and it is going to be just along the U.S. seaboard later on tonight. Then that system is going to pick up moisture from the gulfstream, which is a good source of humidity, and track across the Bay of Fundy. Right now, the most likely track would bring it through Charlottetown late afternoon on Friday.”

Just in time to disrupt Valentine’s Day dates, he joked.

“At this time for the Summerside area, we are looking at the possibility of 15 to 25 centimetres of snow. The snow will begin late Thursday night, but the brunt of the precipitation will be Thursday into Friday,” said Cote.

Making conditions worse are winds forecast increase from the east, gusting up to 80 kilometres per hour.

“For awhile I suspect there will be blowing snow, reduced visibility, but as we get close to the freezing mark, the snow will become wet and visibility will improve,” said Cote. “That doesn’t make conditions any better.”

The forecasted winds prompted officials at the Confederation Bridge Wednesday afternoon to issue an advisory indicating traffic on the link to the mainland would likely be restricted from 11 p.m. Thursday until 7 a.m. Friday.

“By daybreak Friday, my feeling is there won’t be much moving on the Island,” said Cote. “I am not so sure how conditions will be Friday morning.”

The snow is expected to turn to ice pellets then freezing rain by morning and continue until noon Friday. And, with temperatures of 3 degrees Celsius by Friday, rain could also be thrown into the mix.

Right now, Environment Canada isn’t classifying the storm as a blizzard, although, there will be blizzard-like conditions — sustained high winds and reduced visibility due to blowing snow.

“If there are any blizzard conditions it would just be on the northern tip of the Island,” he added.

“For the men, it would be a good excuse not to have a Valentine. Sorry, honey, the weather was too bad to go out.”

There will be little time to clean up from that storm before a second system moves in, possibly dumping another 15 centimetres of snow starting beginning Saturday evening.

“Right now, the timing with this next system, it would be an overnight event from Saturday to Sunday,” said Cote. “It looks like our temperatures would remain at or below freezing. Right now indications are it would be a snow event.”

The snow is expected to continue Sunday until noon. Winds with that system are also expected to be high, gusting to 80 kilometres per hour.

Not the best news for Islanders expecting to enjoy a long weekend, Cote admitted.

And with a cold snap next week — with a daytime high Monday of only -13 and northerly winds — the snow will likely stay around for some time, he added.

“It’s not going to be necessarily nice outside, temperature wise, with the windchill.”

For updates and storm coverage, visit www.journalpioneer, follow us on Twitter at @JournalPEI or visit our Facebook page.



Organizations: Environment Canada

Geographic location: Prince, Gulf of Mexico, U.S. Bay of Fundy Charlottetown Summerside

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