Even a ski hill is closed as storm lands on East Coast

HALIFAX -- It was a familiar story Monday in Atlantic Canada as a nasty storm grounded flights and prompted schools, shops, offices -- and even a ski hill -- to shut early.

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Nova Scotia was expected bear the brunt of the storm -- the third to hit the East Coast in just over a week -- with up to 30 centimetres of snow expected by Tuesday.

Environment Canada said parts of Newfoundland should brace for 15 to 25 centimetres of snow and near-zero visibility. Blowing snow was also expected to cause trouble in Prince Edward Island and southern New Brunswick.

Though travellers at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport were likely dismayed by the slew of cancellations in and out of the city, the storm prompted guarded optimism, and caution, at snow-starved ski resorts.

Andy MacLean, the general manager of Ski Martock near Windsor, N.S., said in an interview the forecast was dire enough to plan a closure at 4 p.m. on Monday.

"We decided to close so staff don't have to travel back and forth," he said. "It's safety first for staff and patrons."

However, after a winter with relatively warm temperatures that has made snowmaking difficult, MacLean said the resort couldn't wait for the heavy snowfall.

"We love it when nature provides a good dump of snow like this," he said.

One Halifax inn hoped to lure storm-stranded guests with a discounted rate and free snacks. The Atlantica Hotel tweeted it was offering a special, $89-plus-tax rate that "includes your own bag of .StormChips!"

Most school boards in the province announced school closures due to concerns the strong winds and snow would make driving dangerous, and the province said offices in Halifax and across the southwest of the province closed at noon.

Halifax Regional Police used social media to urge caution on the roads.

"You know the drill, people," the force said on Twitter. "It's about to get all kinds of nasty out there. Let's slow down, be cautious and get home safe."

Bay Ferries also announced it was cancelling crossings between New Brunswick and Nova Scotia due to the weather. The St. John's International Airport had a number of cancellations, mostly flights to Halifax.

Nova Scotia Power issued a news release saying it would have a full complement of crews and trucks placed strategically across the province and would begin any needed repairs as soon as conditions were safe.

The utility said 67,000 customers lost power at the height of a storm that hit the last weekend of January after snow and ice covered trees made contact with and downed power lines.

"Temperatures are expected to be colder for this storm ... so the snow is not expected to be as sticky," it said. "This should result in less extensive build-up of snow and ice on trees and electrical equipment. However, strong winds could blow trees and branches onto lines, causing outages."

A second winter system was expected to impact Newfoundland on Tuesday night and into Wednesday with additional snowfall and strong winds.



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