ALBERTON, P.E.I. - Even before the wind picked up Tuesday afternoon, Prince District RCMP were advising motorists to stay off Island roads.
“It’s a good idea, if you don’t have to go anywhere to stay home,” Sgt. Darrell Gill said.
He noted roads throughout the district were already snow covered with slushy sections. With the wind forecast to pick up as the day progressed, Gill said conditions would likely get worse.
Schools across P.E.I., including UPEI and Holland College, were closed for the day, and Health P.E.I. advised that several of its services were cancelled, including all primary care appointments in Rustico, Tyne Valley, O’Leary and Alberton and all Public Health Nursing appointments provincewide.
Saltwire Network meteorologist Cindy Day said close to 22 centimetres of snow had fallen in the Charlottetown area by mid-afternoon Tuesday, and 16 centimetres were reported in the Summerside area. She said the increasing wind speed into the evening would likely move the snow around, especially the two to three centimetres of dry snow that were still to come.
“I guess what we are advising is, unless it is a dire emergency, stay off the roads,” Gill said.
Garth Gallant, dispatcher at the government garage in Summerside, said plows had been on highways and side roads since early morning.
“The wind’s starting to pick up here. The visibility is getting a little bit worse,” Gallant said late Tuesday afternoon.
For an estimate on when conditions were likely to improve, Gallant responded, “Not for a while yet.”
Snow clearing operators had reported a few vehicles in the ditch, but Gallant said most were subsequently removed.
A tractor-trailer was off the road along Route 225, blocking a portion of the Kinkora Road. The scene was cleared shortly before 1 p.m.
Summerside Police Services Deputy Chief Sinclair Walker said traffic within the city was running fairly smoothly.
Day was expecting gusts of 70 to 80 km/h out of the northwest Tuesday evening, and gusts approaching 70 km/h this morning.
The temperature for Wednesday is forecast to be -5 C, giving a wind chill value around -15 C.
“I’d be worried about blowing and drifting as the night goes on.”
There is a shift on the way, though.
Day said the temperature should climb above freezing on Friday and continue to climb to 10 to 12 C on Saturday. She’s expecting that shift to be accompanied by more than 30 millimetres of rain. The combination of warmth and rain, she suggested, will make a big dent in winter’s early snows.
The temperature will fall back but remain above freezing on Sunday and then drop just below freezing for the Christmas period.
With no big systems showing on the weather map for Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, she said Christmas travelling conditions should be good.
Day refers to the coming weekend’s weather as a “wobble” and said the Jetstream should reposition itself to a more normal position thereafter.
Northumberland Ferries Ltd. cancelled some early ferry crossings between Wood Islands and Caribou, N.S., for this morning due to the weather forecast.
The 8 a.m. and 11:15 a.m. sailings from Wood Islands are cancelled, as are the 9:30 a.m. and 1 p.m. crossings from Caribou. NFL said a further announcement would be made for the 4:30 p.m. crossing from Wood Islands, and the 6:15 p.m. crossing from Caribou.