First storm of 2018 makes for a wild day on the South Shore

by Charles Mandel

  • <p>Keith Corcoran, photo</p><p>A power crew works on downed lines in Bridgewater</p>

Cars careened on the black ice, the power flickered on and off, the rain lashed down, and the wind howled.

It wasn't quite the weather bomb forecasters predicted, but nonetheless the first storm of 2018 is causing chaos and closures throughout the South Shore on Thursday, January 4.

By late afternoon the wind roared to gusts of 110 km/h while holding steady at 91 km/h. Environment Canada was still calling for gusts as strong as 140 km/h.

The forecaster also called for rain amounts of 30 to 50 mm through the afternoon and into overnight.

Several accidents were reported, including a roll-over on Highway 3 in the Rhodes Corner area; and a single car crash in the Upper Chelsea area on Highway 210.

At one point in the late morning a transformer in Bridgewater "lit up with a blue flash," LighthouseNOW's Keith Corcoran reported, causing power to fail on the city's east side.

In the late afternoon another report came of emergency crews on their way to a report of sparks from power lines on Highway 325, with smoke coming from the roof of Oakhill Commercial and Recreational Equipment also off of Highway 325.

Closures began in the morning with the NSCC shutting down its Lunenburg Campus for the day, and the South Shore Regional School Board announcing that schools were shuttered for the day in both Lunenburg and Queens Counties, and the closures continued throughout the rest of Thursday.

The Lunenburg Market closed for the day, the Bridgewater Mall announced an early closure, and Bridgewater Transit Service said it would stop running at 7 p.m. and resume with a late start on Friday.

Late afternoon Thursday, Nova Scotia Power showed some 800 people without power along the South Shore.

Just how bad is the storm?

Saltbox Brewery announced it would close at 5 p.m. Thursday night.

Ahead of the Nor'Easter Nova Scotia Power said it was ramping up the biggest pre-storm mobilization of personnel and resources in the company's history.

The utility predicted that the storm would be bigger than the one that took out power to some 158,000 people for up to three days on the South Shore Christmas Day, but so far that forecast has yet to materialize..

To be safe, NS Power called in crews from as far away as Hydro Quebec and lined up more than 1,000 people dedicated to storm response, including frontline crews, damage assessors, planners, engineers, support staff, and customer care representatives.

The utility warned that people should be prepared for power outages lasting through the weekend, and perhaps into early next week.

Friday's temperatures call for a high of one degree and a 60 per cent chance of flurries.

With files from Keith Corcoran

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