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5 things you need to know about the crazy amount of snow in Halifax

Halifax's normally busy downtown core was like a ghost town as Wednesday's wicked weather had many residents wishing they were in a sunnier place. Natasha Pace/Global News

HALIFAX – For people in the Maritimes this winter, the snow has been no laughing matter. Recurrent storms have left the region covered in snow and ice, gouged potholes into the roads and made life generally miserable, even for the contractors whose plows have been in near-continuous operation.

For the rest of the world, it’s been a topic of great interest. If you haven’t been following too closely, here are five things you might not know about the latest blast of winter to hit Halifax:

1. It has been snowing. A lot.

Snow has been piled high along Halifax streets.
Snow has been piled high along Halifax streets. Rebecca Lau/ Global News

White Juan, widely known as one of the worst — if not the worst — recorded snowstorm in Halifax’s history, dumped about 96 centimetres on the city. The most recent storm didn’t bury the city under that much snow, although areas including Hammonds Plains unofficially tallied snowfalls upward of 70 centimetres. However, when you add in the dumping from the storm that just rolled through on Sunday, the totals actually exceed those of White Juan. No wonder residents are throwing in the towel (see No. 4).

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2. All that snow costs money to clear

A snowplow clears a residential street in Dartmouth, N.S. on Wednesday, March 18, 2015.
A snowplow clears a residential street in Dartmouth, N.S. on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Andrew Vaughan/The Canadian Press

Halifax already plowed through its snow-clearing budget of about $20 million, and that was before the last two storms hit. On Thursday, word came down that the city expects to go over its budget by $9 million when it’s all said and done — an overrun of almost 50 per cent. Maybe the province can help foot the bill? Don’t count on it. Not long after the city’s snow-clearing plans were revealed, Nova Scotia Transportation Minister Geoff MacLellan said the province is on track to spend $75 million on its own winter operations, which would be $17 million over budget.

READ MORE: Halifax winter storm cleanup work begins, no state of emergency declared

3. It’s led to an unprecedented ban on parking

Parking lots at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport were snowy and full on Thursday, March 19, 2015. Cory McGraw/Global News

When the snow falls, it needs to be cleared and cars parked on the street can pose problems for plow operators. That’s why Halifax typically institutes overnight parking bans from 1-6 a.m. during snow events. The weather has been so bad lately, however, that the city has made the unprecedented move to ban on-street parking entirely — and indefinitely — until it can widen the roads. That’s something that wasn’t even done during White Juan. (Did we mention that pedestrians have been forced to walk on the street?)

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4. People might be going snow-crazy on social media

A pedestrian walks up Novalea Drive in Halifax on Wednesday, March 18, 2015. Cory McGraw/Global News

For many people in Halifax, if the snow didn’t trap them inside, the cancellation of city bus service, unavailability of taxis and impassable roads left them effectively stranded. As a result, they had lots of time on their hands to put toward creative efforts on social media. In addition to the usual deluge of photos and videos that documented the amazing height of  the snowbanks and people skiing down the streets, hashtags like #WinterISurrender caught on quickly — because nothing makes you want to give up on life like running out of #stormchips.

5. A pregnant woman got stuck in the snow, and one of our reporters helped her get to the hospital

Global News reporter Brett Ruskin helps a pregnant woman in labour who was stuck behind a snowbank.
Global News reporter Brett Ruskin helps a pregnant woman in labour who was stuck behind a snowbank. Global News

Global News reporter Brett Ruskin was out covering the storm and had just filmed a cohort of brave first responders who helped a stranded pregnant woman when he heard a second mother-to-be calling out from behind a snowbank. He was quick to act and helped the woman safely over before calling 911 and waiting with her for the ambulance to arrive. The story became a viral hit, and the woman was able to safely deliver her baby boy, Liam, in hospital later that night.

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