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A man shovels snow as Toronto is gripped by a winter storm on Friday February 8, 2013.

Chris Young/The Globe and Mail

Atlantic Canadians are bracing for a blizzard as the storm that walloped Southern Ontario moves east, giving much of the country a hefty dose of winter's wrath.

The storm is forecast to rage over parts of New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and Newfoundland on Saturday, dumping up to 40 centimetres of snow with strong wind gusts.

"It will do a number on Atlantic Canada," said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada. "It's packing a real punch."

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The blizzard is a combination of three weather systems: an Alberta clipper of cold air, a Texas low of warm, moist air and a powerful storm that began in the Carolinas.

Dozens of Saturday's flights have been cancelled at Halifax Stanfield International Airport. Power was out to more than 5,000 customers from Yarmouth to St. Margarets Bay in Nova Scotia and 600 in New Brunswick in the St. Stephen area, CBC reported.

Forecasters also warn there could be some flooding along the Nova Scotia coast between Halifax and Yarmouth.

In Toronto, the storm was the worst to hit the city in five years. It blanketed a swath of Southern Ontario with up to 25 centimetres of snow by day's end, causing chaos as hundreds of flights were grounded, classes were cancelled and collisions were reported.

Ian Wright of Hamilton Paramedic Services said an 80-year-old woman in that city collapsed while shovelling her driveway early in the morning. She was pronounced dead on the scene, he said.

A 49-year-old man died after he lost control of his vehicle and was hit by a pickup truck in Pickering, east of Toronto. The truck was then rear-ended by another car, police said.

Further east, provincial police reported a 57-year-old Ottawa man died when his car crashed in blizzard conditions along Highway 401 near Prescott, Ont.

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The wintry weather forced the cancellation of more than half the flights at Pearson International Airport – more than 700 in all – with more than 90 scrapped at Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport.

Traffic was lighter in Toronto's downtown core as many motorists heeded warnings to stay off the roads, choosing to work from home or take the day off. Still, Constable Clint Stibbe said, "with the restricted lanes, the congestion is just as high if not worse."

Pedestrians bundled up and hunched down as they braved deep snow and cold temperatures to get to their destinations.

For thousands of students, the storm meant a snow day.

Some school boards, including the Peel, Halton public and Halton Catholic districts, cancelled classes. Others – including the Toronto, Durham and York districts and Toronto and York Catholic districts – remained opened but cancelled school buses.

Several universities were also closed, including York, Ryerson, University of Toronto's Mississauga and Scarborough campuses, McMaster, Guelph, Waterloo, Brock and Wilfrid Laurier.

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Snow began falling across the U.S. Northeast on Friday, ushering in what was predicted to be a huge, possibly historic blizzard and sending residents scurrying to stock up on food and gas up their cars. The storm could dump up to one metre of snow from New York to Boston and beyond.

Even before the first snowflake had fallen, Boston, Providence, R.I., Hartford, Conn., and other towns and cities in New England and upstate New York cancelled school Friday, and airlines scratched more than 3,700 flights through Saturday, with the disruptions certain to ripple across the U.S.

The heaviest snowfall was expected Friday night and into Saturday with high wind gusts. Widespread power failures were feared, along with flooding in coastal areas still recovering from Sandy in October.

In Massachusetts, where Boston could get up to one metre of snow, Governor Deval Patrick banned all traffic from roads after 4 p.m., believed to be the state's first such ban since the blizzard of 1978.

With a report from The Associated Press and The Canadian Press

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