A pedestrian braves the elements on the boardwalk at Fisherman’s Cove in Eastern Passage, N.S. on Tuesday, March 13, 2018. (THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan)

Lights out, flights grounded as storm lashes Atlantic region

Electricity was out for 51,000 homes and businesses early Wednesday in Nova Scotia

Thousands of Maritimers woke up to power outages, school closures and flight cancellations Wednesday after the third storm to hit in a week swept through the region.

In downtown Halifax, wind blasts were sufficient to topple trees and a piece of the steeple of St. Matthew’s United Church, which damaged a historic fence as it fell onto a sidewalk.

The electricity was out for 51,000 homes and businesses early Wednesday in Nova Scotia, with Nova Scotia Power saying that it had restored power to 70,000 customers since noon on Tuesday.

Utility spokeswoman Tiffany Chase said the combination of wet snow and gusting winds creates challenging conditions for the power grid.

“When you have snow mixed with rain it makes the snow heavy, it clings to our equipment and weighs down tree branches,” she said in an interview early Wednesday.

Related: Blizzard warnings up for third nor’easter hitting Northeast

The Halifax Public Gardens remained closed due to “high winds and poor pathway conditions,” the city said in a tweet.

In New Brunswick there were fewer power outages, with about 4,300 customers still without power as of 6:30 a.m., but schools throughout the province were closed.

Government offices were set to open at 11 a.m., with Fredericton’s municipal services also opening mid morning.

Environment Canada has issued a slew of warnings, saying up to 25 centimetres of snow were expected in some areas.

Agency meteorologist Ian Hubbard said 20 to 25 centimetres of snow were expected in New Brunswick, with up to 40 centimetres possible in some areas.

Prince Edward Island had school closures along with one-hour delays as buses waited for roads to be cleared. Some primary care facilities in P.E.I.’s West Prince region also announced they were rescheduling appointments due to the storm.

The Island’s utility said about 6,100 customers were without power overnight, but by 3:30 a.m. most had power back.

Related: Insurers say Canadian weather getting hotter, wetter and weirder

Environment Canada was also calling for potentially damaging high winds of up to 110 kilometres an hour along coastal areas of Nova Scotia and up to 100 km/h in parts of Newfoundland.

The weather agency said some areas of Newfoundland could expect 15 to 30 millimetres of rain by Thursday afternoon.

Airlines cancelled flights ahead of the storm.

The departure board at Halifax Stanfield International Airport showed around a dozen flight cancellations early Wednesday, with similar situations in smaller airports around the region.

However, most flights after 7:30 a.m. were on schedule as the weather calmed over Nova Scotia’s capital.

Ferry crossings between Nova Scotia and Newfoundland were posting delays, and travellers were advised to check Marine Atlantic’s website for updates.

Michael Tutton, The Canadian Press

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