One of the worst storms of the year shuts down P.E.I.

Colin MacLean
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Although plows are now working to clear Island highways, much of the secondary road network remains impassable Thursday morning. This photo was taken on Route 12 in Southwest Lot 16. Colin MacLean/Journal Pioneer

SUMMERSIDE – If you listened hard enough yesterday you could almost hear the muttering of Islanders over the roar of the wind.

Much to the consternation of residents, restless from a winter that just does not seem to want to end, Prince Edward Island was blasted Wednesday by yet another major snowstorm.

The weather system, which meteorologists have been concerned about for nearly a week, blasted Atlantic Canada throughout the late morning and into Thursday.

Because the region had so much advance warning, hardly anything was open during the day, including all non-essential government offices and schools.

Visibility was so bad by late Wednesday afternoon, that provincial and municipal snow clearing crews were taken off the roads and RCMP were telling people to stay put, wherever they were.

RCMP Const. Ken Wakelin, from the East Prince detachment, reported that by 5 p.m. all RCMP units were being taken off the roads and would only be responding to emergencies.

“It's very, very dangerous out there,” said Wakelin.

Thankfully though, he added, most people seemed to have gotten the message early and stayed off the roads. There were no major incidents to report as of that time, although in Charlottetown an accident and poor visibility forced officials to shutdown the Hillsborough Bridge connecting the capital city to Stratford.

Meanwhile, Summerside Police were also asking residents to take precautions and by early afternoon were asking people to stay off city streets.

Police Chief David Poirier was also asking residents to help prevent snowclearing problems by keeping their cars parked in driveways and off the streets.

What little traffic was moving around the province also had a hard time leaving, as the Confederation Bridge imposed restrictions by late afternoon.

And conditions were not expected to improve until at least noon Thursday, said Bob Robichaud , an Environment Canada meteorologist.

Strong northwest winds were expected to continue in the province until at least that time, which would make for hazardous driving conditions, he said.

It was unclear at that point whether the storm could be called the worst of the season, he added, but it was close.

“Its tough to say, but it's up there,” he said.

In neighbouring Nova Scotia and New Brunswick, the snow and whiteout conditions shut down about 160 kilometres of the TransCanada Highway between Truro, N.S. and Moncton. N.B.

Robichaud also said that while many media outlets were comparing this storm to White Juan, which dumped upwards of 70 cm of snow on P.E.I. and nearly 100 cm in other parts of the Maritimes several years ago, it was not likely to live up to hype.

“It's certainly a bad storm, but nothing like what was talked about on social media,” he said.

But it was bad enough. As of 5 p.m. the Charlottetown Airport had received nearly 20 cm of snow, and at least another 20-30 cm were expected across the province before tapering off Thursday morning.

But Robichaud also had some good news for Islanders.

The storm was expected to move past the region mid-afternoon on Thursday, so he expected to see a bit of sun before the day was out.

Organizations: RCMP, Environment Canada, TransCanada Highway Charlottetown Airport Islanders

Geographic location: Prince Edward Island, Atlantic Canada, Charlottetown Stratford Nova Scotia New Brunswick Moncton

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