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Thousands without power after massive spring storm batters Atlantic Canada

MARITIME STORM: Adam Excel wears ski goggles as he walks down Barrington street in downtown Halifax. March 26, 2014.

PAUL DARROW/GLOBE AND MAIL

Thousands of people in Atlantic Canada were without power early Thursday after a powerful spring storm brought crippling winds and heavy snowfall to the region Wednesday.

Howling winds pulled down power lines across the Maritimes, leaving about 16,000 Nova Scotians in the dark at one point.

Outages also affected about 2,400 customers in southern New Brunswick as well as customers across Prince Edward Island.

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In many areas of the region, roads were snow-covered and slippery with the Trans-Canada Highway between Truro and Amherst in Nova Scotia closed until early in the day.

The RCMP in PEI asked drivers to stay at home because of high winds of up to 100 kilometres an hour as road crews worked to clear highways. The Mounties said some roads remained impassable Thursday morning.

Most schools and government offices were closed in the Maritimes on Wednesday, with schools in parts of Nova Scotia and PEI shuttered again Thursday. Some government offices delayed their openings.

Charlottetown's Queen Elizabeth Hospital cancelled all non-emergency surgeries Thursday and limited clinic appointments.

Some flights were also cancelled Thursday in Halifax and St. John's, a day after public transit services were cancelled throughout the region. The Confederation Bridge linking PEI and New Brunswick was closed to traffic.

Gusts reached 172 kilometres per hour in parts of Cape Breton, where the Canso causeway was closed, and 185 kilometres per hour at Wreckhouse in western Newfoundland.

In Nova Scotia, the community of Amherst received the most snow at 40 centimetres, while Halifax reported only 16 centimetres and Charlottetown received 28 centimetres.

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