Storm’s high winds disrupt South Shore services for second day in a row

After the first winter storm of 2018 battered Nova Scotia overnight, more than 113,000 people province-wide remain without power, some 4,300 of those on the South Shore.

For the second day in a row, schools are closed while road conditions remain less than ideal.

The South Shore Regional School Board cancelled all schools in Lunenburg and Queens Counties, citing the "many power outages and road conditions."

Eight of the schools have confirmed power outages and a number of other sporadic outages have been reported.

The NSCC Lunenburg campus also announced it was closing for the day.

The Town of Bridgewater said public works staff were salting the roads and assessing for disruptions and damage overnight. The town asked drivers to be patient and cautious, and warned that with the dropping temperatures drivers could encounter icy conditions and debris.

"Stay safe," town staff Tweeted.

In Hubbards, Trunk 3 at Conrads Beach was reported being down to one lane from the storm.

Both the LaHave and Tancook ferries are not running.

Overnight, the wind tore down scaffolding at the Lunenburg Academy, and smashed boats in Mahone Bay. (Readers Maureen Moffatt and Connor Veinot respectively sent in photos.)

The severe wind storm bringing hurricane force winds upwards of 140 kilometres per hour continues to sweep across the province this morning causing a multitude of power outages, Nova Scotia Power reported. Approximately 155,000 customers have been restored since the storm began yesterday.

"As predicted, this storm was very powerful, causing significant damage and disruptions across the province," says Stephen Pothier, Nova Scotia Power's storm lead. "We prepared extensively, calling in crews from as far away as Quebec and Ontario, and we have been restoring customer outages throughout the province since early yesterday, when safe to do so."

In the largest mobilization of personnel in the utility's history, more than 1,000 people continue to be dedicated to storm response today, including frontline powerline and forestry crews, damage assessors, planners, engineers, support staff, and customer care representatives.

The utility said crews will continue to safely work as quickly as possible on restorations. When winds are gusting above 80 kilometres per hour, crews will make on-site assessments if they need to pause restoration efforts and stand down for safety.

"Today we are focused on fully understanding the extent of damage to our system and making a plan for restoration, with the first priority on restoring emergency situations and larger customer outages," said Pothier.

In situations where there are multiple power outages, Nova Scotia Power restores power in phases to ensure critical services like hospitals can stay open before beginning work in other areas. Larger outages on transmission lines and in substations are restored ahead of smaller outages to restore electricity to the greatest number of customers.

Customers are asked to report outages to Nova Scotia Power at 1-877-428-6004 and to get the latest Estimated Time of Restoration (ETR) online at outagemap.nspower.ca or by calling 1-877-428-6004. Please note ETR's are based on the best available information at the time and are subject to change as more information on the extent of damage in each area is known.

The Nova Scotia Power customer service centre in Chester is open as a comfort centre from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Customers who've lost power can warm up, have some coffee or hot chocolate, and recharge their devices.

The Chester service centre is located at 96 Valley Road.

For Friday, Environment Canada called for strong southerly winds gusting up to 110 km/h, shifting to southwest this morning and beginning to diminish. Winds will drop below warning criteria by this afternoon but the southwesterly winds will remain quite gusty throughout the night and into Saturday.

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