It didn’t snow in October. It didn’t snow in November. It didn’t snow in December! Snow shovels were in existential crises as they questioned the reason for their very existence. Then came January. Monday January 4, 2015, the weather report showed an intense low-pressure weather system that was expected to wind its way across the Maritimes on Tuesday. It reported that in Nova Scotia, the storm could leave behind 20 to 30 centimetres of snow. The snow would start along the South Shore at about 4 a.m. Tuesday and would continue throughout the day and change to rain in the evening. The rain would change back some snow, possibly before daybreak Wednesday. Winds could reach as high at 80 to 100 kilometres per hour on Tuesday, resulting in potential blizzard-like conditions. And they weren’t kidding!
Dozens of flights were cancelled and transportation officials had to shut down a 170-kilometre stretch of the Trans-Canada Highway in New Brunswick and Nova Scotia as the blizzard wreaked havoc on travel across nearly every county in the Maritimes.
That was only the beginning. The storms continued to pound us for the next few weeks, one after the other. Snow shovels rejoiced. On Feb. 15 travel woes continued across the Maritimes as crews worked to clear the remnants of another powerful blast of winter.
Forecasters called it an old-fashioned nor’easter, but Maritimers dubbed it White Juan in recognition of the hurricane that had hit Nova Scotia five months earlier. During White Juan, snow fell at the rate of five centimeters per hour for 12 hours. With the heavy snow, Environment Canada weather historians chronicled fierce winds gusting to 124 km/h and zero visibility. Halifax, Yarmouth and Charlottetown broke all-time 24-hour snowfall records.
For the first time in history, Nova Scotia and Prince Edward Island declared province-wide states of emergency lasting four days. Halifax issued a nightly nine-hour curfew over three days for all but essential workers in order to give them a fighting chance to clear the snow, estimated to weigh six million tons. Miraculously, there were no serious injuries or deaths, just a million unforgettable stories.
One newspaper story reported that the Nova Scotia RCMP was asking for the public’s assistance in apprehending Old Man Winter, who was wanted in relation to a series of storms in Nova Scotia over the past two weeks leaving behind massive amounts of snow across the province. Old Man Winter, the RCMP explained, hails from the north, moves quickly, and drifts around. The suspect was last know to have dumped up to 60 centimetres throughout the province. His known associates include Shubenacadie Sam, Jack Frost, Mother Nature and Frosty the Snowman.
The final winter storm in a long line of storms was called “winter storm Neptune” and dumped over 40 centimetres of snow in parts of Nova Scotia. Snow remained on the ground throughout the Maritime provinces well into May.
Snow piles were high and there was so much of it that
they had to start having large dump loaders come and take it away because there was ultimately no were to put it after a while!