Halifax municipal officials warned coastal residents of dangerous conditions Tuesday as pounding surf, heavy rain and a potential storm surge continued in advance of hurricane Teddy's arrival in Nova Scotia.
"Citizens living in high-risk areas in the Sambro area, Peggys Cove, and along the Eastern Shore are asked to make plans immediately to self-evacuate," HRM's public service announcement email said, adding that the evacuation recommendation would be voluntary. "Citizens are encouraged to be in alternative locations prior to the arrival of the storm. Please contact 311 by 8 p.m. to self-register if you plan to self-evacuate for safety reasons. If there are calls to 311 regarding evacuations after 8 p.m., emergency services will respond accordingly."
With high storm surges expected the muncipality advised residents in low-lying and coastal areas, including the downtown waterfronts.
"Weather conditions are dangerous," the advisory said. "The public is urged to stay off the roads for their own safety and avoid impeding efforts by first responders in emergency situations."
The road to Peggys Cove, Lawrencetown Road, and Highway Number 207 from Seaforth and Chezzetcook have been closed to non-residents.
Bus and Access-A-Bus service was suspended as of 7 p.m. Tuesday, and ferry service was suspended as of 2:30 p.m. Service was not expected to resume until at least noon on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, the province said it's as ready as it can be as Teddy approaches Nova Scotia.
Municipal Affairs Minister Chuck Porter told reporters at a briefing Tuesday morning that the emergency management office is closely monitoring the storm.
“Our emergency workers are ready to respond, and our critical infrastructure partners are set to resolve services when it is safe to do so,” he said. “Ultimately, everyone must do their part to keep our loved ones safe, and first responders safe as well.”
He said that as the winds and rain pick up people should make sure they have storm supplies such as flashlight batteries, radios and so on ready, and that cellphones are charged.
“Check in on your family and your neighbours and let them know where you are. Stay off the roads unless it is absolutely necessary that you be out there,” he said.
Porter said the storm surge could be the most dangerous part of the storm, and “this is not the time to watch the waves crashing. Stay away from the shorelines and the rocks along the coast.”
By early afternoon, power outages were being reported along the Atlantic coast and in northern Nova Scotia, affecting almost 1,000 customers as of 3 p.m. That number will increase as the winds arrive with their full force.
Mark Sidebottom, Nova Scotia Power's chief operating officer, said 300 crews are in the province ready to deal with power outages, all from within the Atlantic bubble. About 170 of those crews came from outside Nova Scotia.
“We have very good coverage across the province right now, and we're watching closely the track of the storm,” he said. “We will mobilize crews as we understand where there may be more damage than other areas, but we have a good spread across the province right now for initial response.”
Paul Mason, the executive director of the Emergency Management Office, said that if there becomes a need for people to get into comfort centres, municipalities have been asked to look at opening multiple centres if need be so that social distancing measures can be be ensured in compliance with COVID-19 protocols.
Rear Admiral Brian Santarpia, commander of Maritime Forces Atlantic, said the Navy's preparations can be broken down into three bundles: looking after their people, equipment and buildings, looking after the ships, and being prepared to help those who need it in the aftermath.
“And so we put a lot of effort in the last few days,” Santarpia said on Tuesday afternoon. “I've gotten reports back from the fleet commander, responsible for the ships, that the ships are all tucked away as tight as they can be and the lines are tripled up and anchors are down, and all of the sort of things you'd expect to make sure that the ships will be safe and secure.
“And then I got the base commander working for us. He did a great job of rounds all around the base, not just here at the dockyard but up the hill in Willow Park and all the surrounding facilities to make sure that everything that we've got is tucked away and lashed down so it won't be a danger and won't get broken.”
He said all heavy equipment has also been similarly secured, so he's confident they are physically ready and will weather it well.
There are only two ships that are not secured in Halifax.
“The only ones that are out forward are Toronto, which is well across the pond in the North Sea right now, so she's fine, and then Asterix was getting ready to go with a couple of our frigates to a big exercise off Scotland here in the next few weeks. We brought back the two frigates – Halifax and Ville de Quebec – and they're tucked away and will follow the storm out on the way across, but Asterix, the smart move for her was to get her to anchor out of the way, so she's gone up to Conception Bay and she'll anchor there tonight and then join up with the two frigates.”
Santarpia said those vessels will then head across the Atlantic after the storm passes.
“The last thing I would say in terms of our preps is that we're always ready to help out if anyone in the region – so, I'm also the Joint Task Force commander for the Atlantic Region, so if there was a need for any of the four provinces here for help in terms of cleaning up after the hurricane, we're always ready for that.”
He said a warning order went out Friday to make sure that all troops in the region will be ready to go if there is a call for help.
Some students in the province are being sent home early.
All schools in Chignecto-Central Regional Centre for Education will be dismissed two hours early today, while students at Strait Regional Centre for Education schools will be sent home at 1 p.m. due to the incoming storm.
Spokesman Doug Hadley said there hasn't been a decision on the Halifax Regional Centre for Education schools yet.
"We will be following the track of the storm closely, gathering the most accurate information as possible," Hadley said in an email at 8:45 a.m. Tuesday.
"It's a decision that has been made the night before but often gets made early in the morning," he said of potential school closures on Wednesday. "The track could continue to veer east and we will not have a decision to make."
The province is shutting down its campgrounds, day-use parks and all provincial beaches along the South and Eastern shores at noon because of the expected severe conditions, TheShubenacadie Wildlife Park will close at 3 p.m. The lands and forestry department said the closures may be widened to include other parks if the storm track changes or if there is significant damage.
But Nova Scotia is to start to feel the effects of Teddy before it makes landfall as a powerful post-tropical storm Wednesday morning.
“There's a lot of weather ahead of what is a very sprawling storm,” Cindy Day, chief meteorologist of SaltWire Network, said. “It's a very large system. If you're waiting for the worst weather to come when landfall happens, you've already missed it.”
Rain is to begin at about 10 a.m. Tuesday in Halifax. Wind gusts will start in the morning, increasing throughout the day, as they reach their highest by 6 to 8 p.m.
While the gusts will die off overnight, they could still reach 80-90 kilometres per hour on Wednesday, when the heaviest bands of rain are expected.
Most areas will see 60-80 millimetres of rain over the two days, with the highest totals in Halifax, the Annapolis Valley and Cumberland and Colchester Counties.
Day said a storm surge of 50 centimetres above the normal high tide level, with waves off the coast of seven to nine metres, is expected Tuesday.
In preparation of the storm, Nova Scotia's Emergency Management Office activated its provincial co-ordination centre on Sunday.
Nova Scotia Power also activated its emergency operations centre Sunday and has welcomed crews from within the Atlantic bubble as they anticipate power outages caused by the storm.
Some Tuesday afternoon and Wednesday morning flights to Halifax Stanfield international airport have been cancelled, as well as the Northumberland Ferries to Prince Edward Island.