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Nova Scotians already buried under as much as 80 centimetres of snow hunkered down and braced for even more on Sunday as a powerful storm hovering over the province was poised to linger well into a third day.

The heavy, continuous snowfall prompted the Cape Breton Municipality to declare a local state of emergency. Mayor Amanda McDougall shared the development in a video posted to her Facebook page, saying the step was necessary in light of the ongoing storm.

"The reason that council went forward with the local state of emergency is really and truly to keep people off the roads," McDougall said in the video.

"We need to keep people in their houses, because right now that's the safest place to be."

Bus service in the Cape Breton Regional Municipality was cancelled for the day Sunday and will not resume until at least Tuesday. The Halifax Regional Municipality ran only limited transit routes as Environment Canada urged residents to avoid non-essential travel.

"This is a lot of snow," agency meteorologist Bob Robichaud said, adding gusty winds are tossing snow around and hampering visibility.

Robichaud said the low pressure system that stalled southeast of the Atlantic coast has dumped 75 centimetres of snow along Nova Scotia's Eastern Shore and about 80 centimetres in Cape Breton since early Saturday.

He said he is aware of some reports of up to 100 centimetres of snow in Cape Breton, which he said is possible though not yet confirmed.

"It's really an impossibility to get accurate snowfall measurements just because of the nature of snow, but no matter what the number is, it's really a lot of snow," Robichaud said.

Snowstorm dumps 80 cm on parts of N.S. as services grind to a halt. #Snowstorm #NS

"And there's more to come. We're seeing another band of heavier snow moving into parts of Richmond, Guysborough and Antigonish Counties."

Parts of Nova Scotia are expected to see an additional 30 to 50 centimetres of snow by Monday.

A spokesperson for federal Emergency Preparedness Minister Harjit Sajjan said he's monitoring the storm as it pummels the Atlantic region, but notes no formal requests for government support have come in from affected provinces.

In Dartmouth, N.S., David Bingley brought out his snowblower for the first time this winter and spent at least an hour clearing massive snow drifts from his own driveway and those of three neighbours.

"I don't think people saw this coming, or we didn't realize that this was going to be three days of it," Bingley said Sunday while standing outside of a Dartmouth convenience store amid hip-high snowbanks.

"I got to the grocery store and picked my mother up a few things, But I'm doing what I can to be a homebody."

Bingley said he knows there are more hours of snow clearance ahead, but he's grateful that the Dartmouth and surrounding areas are seeing less snow than those living in the eastern and northern parts of Nova Scotia.

"We're not getting the worst of it, I'm thinking about those in Cape Breton and Northumberland County who are really getting hammered," he said.

At a homeless encampment in downtown Halifax, volunteer Steve Wilsack said the unhoused residents there are managing to stay relatively warm through the storm thanks to portable heaters and ice-fishing tents that have been reinforced with tarps and makeshift flooring.

"This is about the sixth storm we've survived," Wilsack said in a phone interview.

"We re-engineered the ice-fishing tents so they're tied down at all four corners. We put a proper floor in to secure it... (the tents) are meant to be out in the elements the way that they are. So we're very pleased that people are safe in their own micro-living space of 36 square feet."

Wilsack and fellow volunteer Matthew Grant have been staying at the encampment for the last 79 nights, providing unhoused residents staying there with support and supplies.

Grant said that while the residents are physically safe from the elements, storms like this are extremely scary for people without housing.

"There's a lot of panic here. The only thing separating them from this blizzard happening right now is a piece of fabric," Grant said.

Snowfall, winter storm and blowing snow warnings blanketing affected swaths of Nova Scotia are also in effect for Prince Edward Island and Newfoundland and Labrador.

Schools in the Halifax, Cape Breton and East Hants municipalities have announced they will be closed on Monday due to the storm. Classes will also be cancelled at schools in the Pictou, Cumberland and Colchester Counties.

Kings and Queens Counties in P.E.I. are forecast to receive up to 40 centimetres of snow in some areas by Monday, and parts of Newfoundland could see the same amount of snow or more, plus rain into Tuesday.

A P.E.I. by-election scheduled for Monday could be postponed due to the storm. The CEO of Elections P.E.I. issued a statement Sunday saying voting will be delayed until Tuesday if weather conditions don't improve by early Monday morning.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 4, 2024.

— With files from Mickey Djuric in Ottawa

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