Schools in St. John’s are canceled for the rest of the week
A dog sits in the snow covering the entrance to a house in Paradise, Newfoundland, on Saturday. (Kim Porter/Reuters)
St. John’s also snagged its snowiest calendar day on record — with a whopping 30 inches coming down on Friday alone. According to Eddie Sheerr, chief meteorologist at NTV News Newfoundland, blizzard conditions raged for 18 hours, with 15 hours of winds topping 60 mph. Gusts approached (and in some cases, exceeded) 90 mph, while a period of hurricane-force sustained winds helped sculpt snow drifts some 15 feet high.
The storm was a meteorological “bomb,” having rapidly intensified during a 24-hour period.
The Canadian Armed Forces were dispatched to St. John’s to assist in the storm’s aftermath, flying in from Fredericton — the capital of New Brunswick.
St. John’s International Airport remains closed to all commercial flights until at least 5 a.m. local time Wednesday.
“I’ve never experienced that much snow or even winds that high” Ashley Brauweiler, a meteorologist at Canadian Broadcasting Corp. Newfoundland and Labrador, said via email. “I knew it was going to be high impact, but I don’t think I realized just exactly what that meant. This will be one that I will talk about for the rest of my career.”
“It was literally a white hurricane,” Brauweiler said.
She explained that cleanup in the wake of Friday’s crippling blizzard has been challenging given the limited amount of space available for relocating snow.
“The thing with St. John’s, especially in the downtown area, is that there is nowhere to put the snow,” she said. “Cars have on-street parking, and they are buried. My street, for example, is a two-way [road], but right now there is only room for one car and the streets are lined with piles of snow.”
In many locales, the scenes resembled those of an archaeological excavation, with residents in some cases struggling to even locate which snow mound contained their automobile. Schools in St. John’s, which is no stranger to powerful winter storms, are closed for the rest of the week.
Eddie Sheerr, chief meteorologist at NTV News NL, said this storm was unlike any other he has forecast in his career. “When it came to forecasting this storm, I was at a loss. I had never forecast anything that was a fierce as the data was suggesting. I kept checking and rechecking to make sure what I was looking at was right. As it turns out, it was. This was the single most powerful storm I’ve experienced,” he said in an email.
Slow improvements have been made at the start of the workweek, with business likely to return to normal by late this week into the weekend.
For example, utility crews are making steady progress on restoration of service, with only 26 customers in St. John’s remaining in the dark by Tuesday afternoon.
Since Friday’s storm, several snow showers have passed through the St. John’s area. “We’ve been seeing flurries here on and off, and every time it starts to snow, I need to assure people that it won’t amount to much,” Brauweiler said.
This blizzard wasn’t the only major snowstorm to hit Newfoundland in the winter. In fact, Brauweiler said that St. John’s has already had nearly five and a half feet of snow just in January.
“And we have lots more winter to get through!” she said.
Sheerr says Newfoundland residents won’t soon forget this blizzard.
“Newfoundlanders are a hardy group. They talk of storms back in the day, and snow being so high you could touch the power lines. Those same Newfoundlanders lived through this blizzard and tell me they’ve never seen anything like it. That says something.”