Thousands in N.S. without power; many in dark until around noon Wednesday


Hundreds of Nova Scotia Power crews will spend Boxing Day stitching together power lines snapped by a winter storm that brought damaging winds to Atlantic Canada on Christmas Day.

Nearly 30,000 homes and businesses in Nova Scotia remained without electricity as of around 12:30 p.m. local time, according to the province’s power utility.

Nova Scotia Power spokeswoman Tiffany Chase said around 123,000 customers who were blacked out had their power restored by around noon on Tuesday, and more than 650 crew members are working “around the clock” to get the rest of the province back on the grid.

Electricity will gradually be restored for many residents on Tuesday, and the utility estimates that 95 per cent of its customers will see their power come back on by Wednesday afternoon, Chase said.

“We know it is the holidays and many people have plans for things like turkey dinners … they would have made in advance not anticipating this weather system,” Chase said in an interview on Tuesday afternoon.

“We do appreciate their patience as our crews continue to safely work to restore power to customers as quickly as possible.”

In total, approximately 158,000 Nova Scotians have been affected by the outages, amounting to nearly one-third of the utility’s 507,000 customers throughout the province, Chase said.

She said as the wind died down, helicopters and vehicles were deployed to survey the damage throughout the province, which included downed trees snapped power lines and “patches” of broken utility poles.

A lower-pressure system barreled across the eastern seaboard and into the Gulf of St. Lawrence over Christmas and was hovering over Newfoundland on Tuesday, Environment Canada said.

The weather agency recorded gusts in excess of 100 km/h throughout much of Nova Scotia, reaching hurricane-force speeds at their peak in some areas, according to preliminary reports.

The province was also doused in a mix of snow, freezing rain and rain on Christmas Day, and Tuesday’s forecast calls for a few centimetres of snow with winds gusting up to 50 km/h as the storm moves away.

Environment Canada has issued warnings of severe winds, blowing snow and blizzard conditions in Newfoundland and Labrador, which the agency said could persist until Wednesday in some parts of the province.

NL Hydro reported outages early Tuesday affecting Port Saunders, Eddies Cove and Port Au Choix. The utility has not said when power would return and did not have a restoration estimate.

Adina Bresge, The Canadian Press