With the power out in her hometown of O'Leary, PEI, last night, Ella Lewis and her husband Harry donned extra sweaters and gathered as many blankets as they could find to prepare for the cold night ahead.

The small town of about 870 is just one of dozens of communities left in the dark after heavy ice from a recent storm brought down trees and power lines, causing blackouts across Prince Edward Island.

"It's kind of cold here right now, but not too bad," Ms. Lewis said. "But it's just the kind of thing that happens. You can't control the weather."

Schools closed in Charlottetown when most of the city went dark shortly after noon yesterday. Red Cross workers fanned out across the island distributing cots and blankets.

For the third day in a row, severe winter conditions battered parts of every province, causing delays at airports and train stations, closing schools and wreaking havoc on roads and highways.

Powerful winds ripped through Southern Ontario, heavy snow blanketed Vancouver and an Arctic ridge of high pressure froze the Prairies with temperatures dropping below -40 in some areas. Both Saskatchewan and Manitoba Hydro reported record levels of power consumption.

In fact, the only parts of the country without severe weather alerts were the Northwest Territories and Yukon, according to Environment Canada meteorologist Rob Kuhn.

"If you look at our weather warning map, it is still solid red coast to coast," he said. "It is wacky winter weather, but it is not out of the norm. There are periods in the midwinter when weather can be very active across the country.

"But it is unusual to have warnings in every province at one time. That certainly doesn't happen every day."

In Quebec, icy roads were blamed for a head-on crash between a school bus and minivan in Varennes, northeast of Montreal, that sent six elementary pupils and the two drivers to hospital with minor injuries.

Meanwhile, police in Ontario shut down numerous highways in northern and southwestern parts of the province because of blowing snow, poor visibility and ice, while more than 53,000 hydro customers were without power. Flight delays were reported at Toronto's Pearson airport, and Toronto motorists had to cope with falling glass and blowing debris as winds gusted to 90 kilometres an hour.

In southern Alberta, searchers have located the body of a man whose vehicle was found abandoned in a ditch earlier this week. Wilfred Hugh Scout, 67, was last seen on Sunday evening and was reported missing the next night after his vehicle was discovered in a ditch along Highway 2 just north of Cardston. Searchers in a helicopter found Mr. Scout's body in a field, just 300 metres from his vehicle.

Environment Canada expects the worst of the cold in Southern Ontario to end today, but extreme conditions are expected to continue in the northwestern parts of the province and into the Prairies.