Thousands of N.S. customers out of power amid strong winds, cold snap

Click to play video: 'N.S. shelters open doors to more people as extreme cold forecasted'
N.S. shelters open doors to more people as extreme cold forecasted
Shelters are opening their doors to more Nova Scotians to help them keep safe as frigid temperatures settle into the region – Feb 3, 2023

Temperatures in Nova Scotia have dropped to -22 C — about -37 with wind chill — as of Saturday morning.

According to Environment Canada, the coldest wind chills could reach -43 in some parts of the province, while maximum wind gusts are forecasted to reach between 70 and 80 kilometres per hour.

The weather agency advises to “cover up.” In its extreme cold warning, it said “frostbite can develop within minutes on exposed skin, especially with wind chill.”

And, “If it’s too cold for you to stay outside, it’s too cold for your pet to stay outside.”

As strong winds swept through the region overnight, many Nova Scotians were left without electricity. At one point, about 30,000 customers were without power in the province.

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Matt Drover, the senior director of transmission and distribution operations at Nova Scotia Power, told Global News the outages are mostly due to the high winds.

“As well, we are having historic temperatures right now… which is leading to situations where electrical equipment isn’t operating due to those cold temperatures.”

Halifax recorded record-breaking wind chill overnight on Saturday. At about 4 a.m., Environment Canada recorded wind chill of -43 at the Halifax Stanfield International Airport, beating the previous 1967 record of -41.

Drover said as temperatures are starting to slowly climb throughout Saturday, which should help with power and restoration equipment.

“Out crews are still able to restore power in these cold temperatures,” Drover said, adding there were about 300 crewmembers in the field.

“As winds start to slow down, we’ll be able to restore power more quickly,” he said.

He said the utility expect to restore power to the majority of its customers by Saturday night.

“We understand how impactful these outages are when temperatures are this cold… We really appreciate people’s patience,” Drover said.

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According to the Nova Scotia Power outage map, about 13,000 customers remain without power as of 1:30 p.m. Saturday.

Earlier this week, Nova Scotia’s utility regulator approved an average 14 per cent increase in electricity rates over two years.

Environment Canada said Friday an arctic airmass will combine with strong northwest winds, causing “bitterly cold conditions.”

Extreme cold warnings are issued when cold temperatures and wind chill create “an elevated risk to health such as frostbite and hypothermia.” Some symptoms, according to the weather agency, include “shortness of breath, chest pain, muscle pain and weakness, numbness and colour change in fingers and toes.”

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Neighbouring New Brunswick was also under an extreme cold warning, where wind chill lows were forecasted to reach -45.

As of 10 a.m. Saturday, just above 3,700 New Brunswick Power customers are out of power.

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