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TORONTO (Reuters) - Two of Canada's Atlantic provinces declared a state of emergency on Thursday after they were hit by a powerful blizzard that forced even snowplows to stay off the road.
The Maritime provinces of Prince Edward Island and Nova Scotia were slammed by 65 cm (26 inches) of snow combined with winds of up to 100 km/h (60 mph), which made for whiteout conditions across much of the region.
"Today's storm has practically shut down the entire province and it isn't over yet," said Ernest Fage, the minister responsible for emergency measures in Nova Scotia, which declared first-ever "Code Black", according to CBC News
The TransCanada Highway was closed and the 13-km (8-mile) Confederation Bridge, which connects Prince Edward Island to the mainland was impassable.
Flights were canceled, and schools, government offices and businesses were shut. Individuals were asked to stay off the roads as whiteouts and drifting snow made driving nearly impossible.
Under the state of emergency, all non-essential workers were asked to stay home. Ambulances were responding first to people with life-threatening injuries or illnesses in Nova Scotia.
Heavy snowfall also hit parts of southern New Brunswick and there was blowing snow in Newfoundland, which could later be mixed with rain overnight.
Environment Canada issued blizzard warnings on Thursday for Nova Scotia, P.E.I., New Brunswick, and Newfoundland.
Claude Cote, a meteorologist at Environment Canada, said the weather system is slowly moving out, with about 10 cm to 15 cm (4 to 6 inches) of snow expected overnight, though strong winds will remain. The blizzard is heading toward Newfoundland, Canada's most easterly province, he added.
Cote said said high tides could also bring storm surges, which could lead to flooding in some communities. A storm surge is caused when water levels rise to higher than normal levels caused by wind and pressure forces.