N.S. and N.B. shatter temperature records, crews respond to fires and broken water pipes

Click to play video: 'Maritimers left without power amid cold snap'
Maritimers left without power amid cold snap
A cold front across the Maritimes has set a number of unwanted records. Residents woke up Saturday morning to frigid temperatures, and in some places, windchill values below minus 40. Robert Lothian has that story – Feb 4, 2023

Nova Scotia and New Brunswick broke several low-temperature records Friday night into Saturday, as an extreme cold snap swept through the region.

The extreme weather led to evacuations and significant damage due to burst pipes, flooding and residential fires.

According to Environment Canada, New Brunswick saw wind chill ranges between -40 and -50, while Nova Scotia recorded wind chills between -35 and -45.

Several areas shattered daily low-temperature records, including Grand Manan, Miscou Island, Moncton, Saint John, St. Stephen and Fundy National Park in New Brunswick.

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The Feb. 4 record of -19.0 C set in 1993 in Grand Manan was broken with a new recorded low of -27.2 C. Moncton broke that day’s record of -27.8 C set in 1917 with -28.1 C. And Saint John recorded a new low of -28.7 C. The following day, the Grand Manan area broke a record again by reaching -27.1 C, compared with the previous record of -23.0 C set in 1990.

In Nova Scotia, records were broken on Feb. 4 in the Brier Island area, Halifax, Kentville, Port Hawksbury, and Yarmouth. Halifax Stanfield International Airport recorded -25.6 C that day, breaking the record of -24.4 C set in 1971.

Yarmouth shattered its 138-year record of -18.9 C set in 1885 by reaching -21.8 C. Yarmouth broke the next day’s record as well by reaching -21.8 C again, surpassing 1967’s record of -19.4 C.

Meanwhile, Environment Canada recorded a wind chill of -43 at the Halifax airport, beating the previous 1967 record of -41.

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The extreme temperatures, coupled with strong winds, left thousands of power customers without service. At one point, about 30,000 Nova Scotia Power customers were in the dark.

A spokesperson told Global News the outages were mostly due to the high winds, but also frigid temperatures.

“We are having historic temperatures right now … which is leading to situations where electrical equipment isn’t operating due to those cold temperatures,” said Matt Drover, senior director of transmission and distribution operations at Nova Scotia Power.

As of Sunday morning, about 3,400 people were without power in Nova Scotia and about 2,600 were in the dark in New Brunswick.

Fires and burst pipes

The frigid temperatures have kept emergency responders busy with calls of burst water pipes, flooding and residential fires.

In a Sunday update at around noon, the Canadian Red Cross said more than 60 people have been displaced due to 12 incidents in the Maritimes.

Click to play video: 'Maritimes hesitant to turn up heat amid extreme cold weather'
Maritimes hesitant to turn up heat amid extreme cold weather

Of those people, 39 are receiving assistance from Red Cross volunteers.

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Among the calls were a house fire in Notre-Dame, N.B. that displaced three adults and a child, damage from burst water pipes in a Saint John apartment building that forced more than a dozen from their homes, and another burst pipe that displaced a family of seven from an apartment on King Street East in Saint John.

In Nova Scotia, two adults were displaced from a mobile home in Amherst after a propane torch was used to thaw frozen water pipes, which started a fire. Meanwhile, damage from burst pipes also displaced residents in apartment buildings on Nova Court in Dartmouth, Sylvia Avenue in Halifax, and a 22-unit condominium complex on Willow Street in Truro.

The Canadian Red Cross also reported house fires near River John, N.S., and Higginsville, N.S.

Many commercial buildings reported damage Sunday from burst water pipes.

Among them was Dalhousie University, which said Tupper Tower and two other locations would be closed Monday, and Park Lane Mall in downtown Halifax.

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