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Winter storm blasts Atlantic provinces, cuts off bridge traffic to P.E.I.

A stranded traveller crosses a parking lot at a service station in Borden-Carleton, Prince Edward Island on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014. A major winter storm has battered the Maritimes with high winds, blowing snow and storm surges along the coast. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Andrew Vaughan

HALIFAX – A massive and powerful storm was causing havoc across eastern Canada on Sunday, causing a multi-vehicle pileup that shut down a bridge linking two Maritime provinces.

Environment Canada says the major winter storm blanketed New Brunswick with snow overnight Saturday and into Sunday and brought a mix of rain, freezing rain, ice pellets and snow to Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island.

“We saw quite significant amounts of snow in eastern New Brunswick, anywhere from 41 centimetres in Bathurst to 31 centimetres in Moncton,” said meteorologist Jeremy March in Halifax on Sunday.

Up to 35 centimetres of snow was expected across Newfoundland on Sunday, with winds gusting up to 130 kilometres an hour in some areas.

March said the effects of the enormous storm were widespread, adding that at one point, its clouds stretched from Labrador to Bermuda — about 2,500 kilometres.

“It was quite a massive system,” he said.

The Confederation Bridge connecting New Brunswick and P.E.I. was closed on Sunday morning as the weather worsened.

RCMP say deteriorating road conditions and near-zero visibility caused a pileup involving at least five vehicles on the P.E.I. side of the bridge, but no one was seriously injured.

The Mounties said the Canso Causeway, which connects Cape Breton to mainland Nova Scotia, was closed after a tractor trailer flipped in high winds.

Nova Scotia Power said about 4,800 customers were without power on Sunday morning. That number jumped to 7,800 later in the evening as the storm passed over Cape Breton.

The Mounties in parts of Newfoundland were warning residents only to venture out in emergencies because of whiteout driving conditions.

It was the latest in what has been a busy winter storm season for Canada’s East Coast, said March.

“It’s been a very busy winter, much busier than the past three or four winters. Hopefully things start to slow down soon because we’re getting tired of it,” said March with a laugh.

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