Cleanup has begun around Nova Scotia after a major freezing rain storm coated much of the province in ice, leading to downed trees, frozen power lines and slippery, treacherous roads and sidewalks.
As of 6:15 p.m. Friday, power was still out for more than 42,000 Nova Scotia Power customers. That number peaked at 90,000 at the height of the storm.
“It’s been a very significant freezing rain storm,” said Matt Drover, the storm lead for Nova Scotia Power, in an interview.
“We’ve seen up to 24 hours of freezing rain throughout the province,” said Drover, “which has definitely significantly impacted the trees throughout the province, which have been weighed down from that ice buildup into our power lines.”
Nova Scotia Power says there was a “significant buildup” of ice on trees, lines and other equipment and is asking people to treat all downed lines as if they are electrified.
Many of the outages are in the Digby, New Germany, Sackville and Hammonds Plains areas, as well as a large part of southern Cape Breton Island. This shows the track of the storm where the freezing rain was the heaviest, said Drover.
He said Nova Scotia Power has “all hands on deck” and more than 500 people are working in the field across the province to restore power, while hundreds more are co-ordinating behind the scenes.
Drover said he expects most of the power to be restored Saturday, though there may be “small pockets” that may go beyond that.
He thanked customers for their patience.
In an email, Dennis Pitts, district chief with Halifax Fire, said fire officials responded to 188 service calls Friday night — a 500 per cent increase over their usual daily call volume.
“It appears the bulk of our calls were in the Hammonds Plains, Sackville, Beaver Bank, and Fall River area where the heavy icing occurred,” he said.
“The data I have for yesterday would all be electrical grid call related such as power pole fires, trees arcing on power lines, power lines down, transformer fires.”
Photos of the dangerous, yet beautiful, ice buildup were abundant on social media Friday evening and Saturday, with many people sharing pictures of ice crystallized to trees, forcing their branches to droop toward the ground, or even break off.
Others shared pictures of thick ice buildup on their decks, windows and barbecues.
One video posted to social media Friday night appears to show a tree swinging into a power line, sending sparks into the air.
In a release, Halifax Regional Municipality said crews were in “all areas,” applying salt to streets and sidewalks.
“Those travelling should exercise caution as icy conditions are present,” it said.