Blizzard strikes Newfoundland; schools closed, flights cancelled

A blizzard marked by high winds and fiercely blowing snow pushed into Newfoundland Tuesday morning, spreading east to west to create stormy conditions, closures and poor driving across the island.
High winds and blowing snow pushed into Newfoundland Tuesday morning. 1:02

A blizzard marked by high winds and fiercely blowing snow pushed into Newfoundland Tuesday morning, spreading east to west to create stormy conditions, closures and poor driving across the island. 

Most schools in western, central and eastern Newfoundland, including metro St. John's, shut down for the day. 

Blowing snow started overnight and into early Tuesday morning, as howling winds wiping out visibility in areas of eastern Newfoundland.

Those conditions extended to the west coast by mid-morning, worsening through the afternoon as the storm picked up speed.

High winds were also posing challenges for navigation across the island, with police urging caution on highways. 

CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said the wind would be "one of the main components" of the storm.

"This thing has a lot of wind in it." 

High winds and blowing snow pushed into Newfoundland Tuesday morning. (Anthony Germain/CBC)

30 cm of snow expected in some areas

Across the Avalon and Burin Peninsulas, Snoddon said snowfall amounts have proved to be much less than originally forecasted.

Previous estimates had up to 30 centimetres expected for the St. John's area, but as of 1:30 p.m. 16 centimetres was recorded at St. John's airport, with the snow already tapering off to ice pellets, with some freezing drizzle and drizzle expected later in the afternoon.

Ryan Snoddon's 1:30 p.m. Tuesday forecast for snowfall totals. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

Snoddon predicted temperatures on the Avalon will rise above 0 through Wednesday morning.

"Our main snow-producing band with the storm is moving through much quicker than forecast," said Snoddon.

Meanwhile, the heaviest snow will be west of the Avalon, in the Clarenville area, as well as the northeast coast and into central Newfoundland.

Anywhere from 20 to 30 centimetres of snow was expected to fall in those areas, with winds gusting 70 to 90 km/h.

This map from Environment Canada details blizzard and winter storm warnings (in red) and blowing snow advisories (in grey) for the province. (Environment Canada)

At St. John's International Airport, many of the flights scheduled for departure and arrival early Tuesday have been cancelled. The airport advises passengers to check with their airline for updates.

Marine Atlantic cancelled its 11:45 a.m. crossings and moved them to 11:45 p.m.

Environment Canada meteorologist Rodney Barney said the Burin Peninsula was in "the thick of it" by 6:30 a.m. in the Marystown area, but precipitation is expected to switch to ice pellets later on.

A blowing snow advisory was also expanded to the Red Bay-L'Anse au Clair portion of Labrador, as well as Norman Bay to Lodge Bay.

Temperatures across eastern Newfoundland are expected to rise above 0 C by late afternoon.

According to Barney, the storm is expected to die off by Tuesday evening, but advises a second system will make for rough cleanup conditions if people don't shovel early.

Stormy conditions on the TCH near Grand Falls-Windsor Tuesday morning. (Julia Cook/CBC)

"It will be quite a nice evening, with the winds especially diminishing over most areas, but then that second system's going to push an area of snow, rain and freezing rain tonight and overnight," he said.

The estimated rainfall amount is 10 millimetres, but Barney said that small amount on top of the snow will make for less than ideal conditions.

"It will be enough to make things kind of wet and soggy, so certainly that snow that's around today, you want to get that cleaned up as soon as possible because it's going to get wet and heavy with that little bit of rain coming."

More snow for central, west

Meanwhile, the second system is expected to bring more snow to the central and western portion of Newfoundland through Wednesday.

Snoddon forecasted those areas could see another five to 10 centimetres by Wednesday morning, but the Northern Peninsula and southeastern Labrador will deal with snow throughout Wednesday, with between 15 to 30 centimetres falling.

Eastern Newfoundland and the Avalon Peninsula will likely see a mix of rain and drizzle Wednesday.

A blowing snow advisory has also been issued for the Northern Peninsula and much of the west coast.


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