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Atlantic weather eases, but Maritimers 'fatigued' after fourth storm

Atlantic Canadians were coping with power outages, slippery roads, damaging gusts and coastal erosion Monday as another brawny storm - the fourth in as many weeks - descended on the region.

Utility websites showed that by 11:00 p.m. local time, about 18,000 homes and businesses in New Brunswick were without power.

At one point Monday, more than 20,000 were in the dark in Nova Scotia, mainly in the Annapolis Valley and the province's northern reaches. But that number had dropped to just 200 by 11 p.m.

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Power outages were also reported throughout Prince Edward Island. A spokesman for Maritime Electric said about 7,500 were without power in the afternoon, but that number had fallen to about 1,500 by early evening.

Meanwhile, police said slippery roads played a role in a fatal accident near Fredericton, P.E.I.

A 25-year-old Island man was killed when an eastbound minivan lost control and was struck by westbound pickup on Route 2. The driver of the minivan was pronounced dead at the scene. The pickup driver sustained minor injuries.

The Island remained under a storm surge warning all day, but snowfall warnings were lifted before noon. The snow quickly melted in some areas, turning Charlottetown streets into a sopping mess. But the western side of the Island received more than 30 centimetres of snow.

The intensity of the latest storm did not come close to last week's vicious nor'easter, which caused flooding and washouts along the Island's coastline.

The Confederation Bridge was under a travel advisory warning much of the day.

In New Brunswick, blizzard conditions descended on northern regions, making driving dangerous. Snowfall warnings were issued for much of the province, with up to 40 centimetres expected in some areas.

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"Snow and local blowing snow associated with this system will taper off to flurries over western regions (Monday night) and over eastern regions on Tuesday," Environment Canada said in a statement.

"The most difficult travel conditions will occur over northeastern parts of the province where a blizzard warning is posted."

Karl Wilmot, a senior manager with the Emergency Measures Organization in New Brunswick, said people calling his office said they were tired and depressed.

"After a repetition of four times in less than a month, fatigue and malaise of the whole thing sets in and people are definitely wearing down," Mr. Wilmot said in an interview from Fredericton.

"You can tell in peoples' voices when they call to register under the disaster financial assistance that people are tired."

Four storms have hit the province this month, ranging from heavy rainfall in the south to coastal flooding in the east.

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Some 150 people were forced to move out of flooded homes in southwestern New Brunswick and the Keswick Ridge area after the second storm.

Last week, high waves pounded the east coast of the province from the Miramichi region to Shediac, forcing more evacuations.

Mr. Wilmot said assessment teams conducting inspections of damaged homes were forced to stop working Monday due to slippery roads.

Linda Libby, a forecaster with Environment Canada, said Monday's storm eased during the day. However, she said it would pick up through the night.

During the day, temperatures hovered around zero in southern New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island, causing the snow to turn to rain, making the roads treacherous and slushy.

"My biggest concern for today are the road conditions, given the temperatures out there," Ms. Libby said. "What can be wet and sloppy and not that bad can become icy and hazardous very quickly."

The forecaster was also calling for storm surges along the east coast of New Brunswick, where a surge last week caused widespread damage to beaches and buildings.

Ms. Libby said storm surges of up to one metre were expected in Nova Scotia's Pictou County and along the coasts of P.E.I. Storm surge warnings were also issued for Nova Scotia's eastern shore, southeastern Cape Breton and the Sydney area.

"We don't expect the water levels to be quite as high as last week, but we are expecting the pounding surf," he said.

Environment Canada said southwestern Newfoundland could see gusts over 110 kilometres per hour.

Ms. Libby said there were snowfall warnings in place for central Newfoundland and there was a mix of snow and rain expected in eastern Newfoundland.

December has been a difficult month for many parts of the Atlantic region, where roads and bridges have been damaged, homes flooded, fishing gear destroyed and some wharfs and boardwalks pounded to bits.

In Cape Breton, rainfall levels have been triple the average. The island was receiving heavy snowfalls in its northern counties on Monday.

The storm system caused thousands of flight cancellations Sunday in the northeastern U.S., and there were delays and cancellations reported throughout the Maritimes.

Dozens of U.S.-bound flights from Canada, mainly from Toronto, were cancelled or delayed.

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