Plows pulled off secondary roads; emergency shelters set up in West Prince

Winter storm warning continues for Queens and Kings counties but conditions expected to improve later this afternoon

Jocelyne Lloyd jlloyd@theguardian.pe.ca
Published on April 1, 2014

Plows have been pulled off secondary roads in Prince Edward Island as blowing snow and ice pellets continue to pelt the province as April begins.

Queens District RCMP are advising motorists to stay off the roads, and only travel if in emergency situations.

Strong winds are causing heavy drifting and whiteout conditions across the province.

The Winsloe Road and Horne Cross roads are both impassable due to drifts, and Route 224 is also drifted over, say Queens RCMP.

"Please drive with caution if you do go somewhere, and remember to clean off your vehicle and use your headlights for extra visibility," says the advisory from RCMP.

The weather conditions brought down scores of power lines over the past couple of days in West Prince. The number of Maritime Electric customers without power has remained around the 4,500 throughout much of the day.

By 3 p.m. Maritime Electric said it had restored power to some 2,300 customers in the greater O'Leary area but still had about 2,200 without power by late afternoon.

"We don’t think all the power will be restored tonight based on the current weather conditions and the challenges we continue to face," said Maritime Electric spokeswoman Kim Griffin in an email. "We want to inform customers so they are prepared."

Three crews working in the Kensington area were pulled off the roads due to safety concerns earlier this afternoon and the utility said other crews were finding it tough to keep going.

"There is significant work to be done mostly in the west where there are poles down that need to be replaced," said Griffin.

Disaster volunteers with the Canadian Red Cross are providing food delivery and other support at a couple of shelters set up in West Prince.

The shelters are at the Alberton Fire Hall, as well as at the John J. Sark Memorial School gymnasium on Lennox Island, where more than a dozen people spent the night.

The O'Leary Fire Hall is also open to the public for water and heat, but it is without power.

The Office of Public Safety tweeted earlier that the bridge to Lennox Island is closed due to the poor road conditions.

There is some relief in sight, however. The Environment Canada Weather Office has lifted the winter storm warning for Prince County but as of 4 p.m. replaced it with a provine-wide blowing snow warning.

Conditions should slowly improve overnight as winds diminish, said the warning.