By John DeCoste
Even though forecasters admitted it was “difficult to say exactly what we’ll get,” Valley residents should prepare for “a lot of snow and a lot of wind” this weekend, CBC Nova Scotia meteorologist Jim Abraham said Thursday.
As of Thursday morning, Environment Canada was making no firm predictions for the weekend, but The Weather Network was predicting 10-15 centimetres of snow overnight Friday into Saturday and up to 25-35 cm overall through Sunday.
“The challenge,” Abraham said, “is that the storm will pass south of Nova Scotia, and even a 50-kilometre change in the track could make a big difference in what we get.”
Although it’s “a tough call,” the predictions as of Thursday were for the northern limit of the storm to be a line between Woodstock and Miramichi, N.B.
Most of Nova Scotia was likely looking at 25-35 cm of snow, and Abraham pointed out that due to the track of the storm, it will be a snow event rather than rain.
“We shouldn’t have to worry about rain or freezing rain, which can often be worse,” both in terms of road conditions and the possibility of power outages.
If the storm ended up moving farther south, we would end up with less snow, but given that Nova Scotia “is closest to the storm, we’ll end up hit the hardest.”
Compounding the concern is that along with the snow, we are likely to have strong winds of at least 40 kilometres per hour, with gusts even higher. This will make driving more difficult, and it will also make it “difficult to measure exactly how much snow we get,” he said.
“Because the snow is soft and fluffy, it’ll be blown around quite a bit.”
The result will be “blizzard conditions” on Saturday, “regardless of the amount of snow we get – but the more snow we get, the worse it will be.”
The bottom line is that we will likely experience “hazardous conditions whatever happens, as long as the wind is blowing that hard.”
Part of what makes the storm so difficult to predict is that it is a combination of two weather systems.
“One will come across the Great Lakes, moving off Cape Cod, and combine with an intense system moving up the Eastern seaboard.”
The result, in meteorological terms, is called a weather bomb, “which arrives quickly and once it arrives, slows down.”
As of Thursday morning, it looked like the highest amounts of snow would likely fall between about 5 a.m. and 5 p.m. Saturday.
At the same time, there is a good possibility it could still be snowing Sunday morning, and the winds are projected to continue at least Sunday afternoon. Under those conditions, ”it only takes a few centimetres to keep things blizzard-like.”
Overall, “the snowfall is likely to be significant,” but depending on how hard the wind blows, “the snow isn’t all we should be worried about.”
Even on Thursday, weekend events were already starting to be cancelled. The Berwick winter carnival scheduled for Saturday and Sunday has been postponed to next weekend, Feb. 16-17, and a bouldering competition scheduled for West Kings District High is postponed until Feb. 23.