WESTCHESTER, N.S. – The Cobequid Pass has reopened after being closed for several hours Tuesday evening.
Cumberland County EMO coordinator Mike Johnson described conditions on the toll highway connecting Thomson Station and Masstown as being “very poor” especially at the highway’s highest elevation near the toll plaza and Westchester Mountain.
Johnson said he believed the highway was closed because of a collision about a mile west of the toll plaza.
The provincial Transportation and Infrastructure Department announced on social media just before 8 p.m. that the highway was closed between the toll plaza and Exit 8 at Westchester. It was telling motorists to exit Highway 104 at Masstown and use Trunk 4 through the Wentworth Valley before getting back on the highway at Exit 7 in Thomson Station.
“Conditions on the highway are not very good. It has been snowing up there all day and there’s freezing rain and rain mixed in. It’s very slippery,” Johnson said. “Driving conditions are not good at all.”
Marla MacInnis of TIR said she was not aware of any collisions on the highway, but said the decision to close the westbound lanes was as a result of weather conditions and significant lineups.
Johnson is urging residents to be prepared for this latest fall storm that is forecast to bring strong winds to most of the province. He said conditions will be worst along the Atlantic coast overnight, but suggested winds of 90 to 100 km/h could blow along exposed areas of the Northumberland Strait once the low pressure system passes into the Gulf of St. Lawrence and intensifies on Wednesday.
Cumberland County was hit hard the weekend of Nov. 2 and 3 with more than 11,000 people without power for extended periods of time. Tens of thousands were without power across the province.
“People need to be prepared because as I’ve said before this is the new normal,” said Johnson. “Once this storm goes by it’s going to intensify rapidly on its way to Newfoundland and that means north and northwest winds of up to 100 km/h along the shore. That also means pounding surf.”
If the wind is as strong as predicted, Johnson said power outages will happen. He said some of the infrastructure was weakened by the last storm.
Johnson said he has been in contact with comfort centres across the county asking them to be prepared to open should there be extended power outages.
Along with strong winds, the temperature is supposed to plummet later Wednesday with windchills as low as -20 C expected overnight Wednesday and into Thursday.