Rebound storm wallops parts of Newfoundland

Schools closed, power lines were torn down and some highways became too dangerous for travel in parts of Newfoundland Thursday, as the second storm in just days whipped into the island.

Schools close in Corner Brook, Gander and other communities

High winds tore down power lines and cracked utility poles in some areas, including in Trepassey on the southern Avalon Peninsula. (Courtesy of Clifford Doran)

Schools closed, power lines were torn down and some highways became too dangerous for travel in parts of Newfoundland Thursday, as the second storm in just days whipped into the island. 

Driving conditions had deteriorated to the point that government officials urged people to stay off the roads in much of western Newfoundland. 

Gusts hit as high as 129 km/h in some coastal areas with gusts of wind reaching 138 km per hour in Cape Pine on Thursday. The high speed was comparable to the 137 km per hour wind measured at the same location during post-tropical storm Leslie in September 2012.  

Visibility was sharply reduced on highways in western Newfoundland, with officials asking motorists to stay off some roads. (Courtesy Donnie O'Keefe )
Power outages were reported in both the southern Avalon and 
Burin peninsulas, with utilities trying to deal with broken poles and lines in challenging conditions. 

About 32 cm of snow fell in Stephenvile, with about 20 falling by midday in Gander. 

Winds high

High wind warnings were issued for much of the province, with gusts hitting as much as 129 km/h in coastal areas.

Marine Atlantic has tied up its ferries for the time being until conditions improve, affecting plans for pre-Christmas travellers and commercial shipping.

Schools in numerous communities, including Corner Brook, Gander, Port aux Basques, and those on the Port au Port and Burin peninsulas, were forced to close. Some college campuses also shut down. 

Newfoundland and Labrador's transportation department advised drivers to stay off several highways in western Newfoundland, including from Deer Lake to Gros Morne National Park and in the areas of Corner Brook and Port aux Basques. 

Corner Brook pulled its buses because of the weather. 

David Neil, a meteorologist with Environment Canada, said parts of western Newfoundland got the most snow overnight, which means heavy shovelling on top of a storm that hit Monday.

Heavy snow fell in Corner Brook late Wednesday and early Thursday, prompting authorities to close schools and issue travel warnings. (Brian McHugh/CBC)
"Areas west of the track, we saw heavy snow, basically right on through northeast and through western Newfoundland," he said.

Snow through late Wednesday night had affected visibility across the island, with RCMP reporting that highway driving in the Clarenville area, for instance, had dropped to zero visibility.

White Christmas likely

By midday, the skies above Grand Falls-Windsor had cleared and residents were clearing their driveways.  

Crystal Hurley said she was thrilled with the two snowstorms which hit central Newfoundland in the past week. 

"I love it! Absolutely wonderful for Christmas," said Hurley. "I'm so happy that this year it's actually going to be white, and not green."

But the thought of a white Christmas brought out a little bit of Scrooge in Gerard Hale.

"It's okay, but this is too white, really," said Hale. "A little less white would have been nice."

Hale probably won't get his Christmas wish, because the long term forecast has indicated tempatures in central Newfoundland will be well below freezing for the next few days. 

On the Avalon Peninsula, a light snowfall gave way to rain and high winds, while freezing temperatures caused slippery conditions. 

Winter storm warnings have ended in western Newfoundland, although wind warnings were still in effect.


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