St. John's cleaning up messy roads after heavy snowfall

The City of St. John's was busy cleaning up roads Friday afternoon after a heavy snowfall hit the city, starting in the morning and moving through to the early afternoon.
Road conditions were rough on Stavanger Drive in St. John's on Friday, as snow continued to fall into the late morning. (Ariana Kelland/CBC)

The City of St. John's was busy cleaning up roads Friday afternoon after a heavy snowfall hit the city, starting in the  morning and moving through to the early afternoon.

Storm Centre

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Some flights trying to get in or out of St. John's International airport were delayed or cancelled due to poor conditions.

The Trans-Canada Highway from Salmonier Line to St. John's quickly became snow-covered, with poor visibility.

RCMP advised motorists to stay off the roads whenever possible, as highways are slippery and have low visibility.

"The road crews are doing the best that the can, but out in the Clarenville area it's just coming down so fast and there's heavy build up, it's slippery, it's slushy. It's not a good morning to be on the road at all. The sides of the road, the shoulders, are snow covered. It's hard for the crews to get everything done, especially with people on the go," said Cst. Oliver Whiffen.

The winter storm has dumped as much as 20 to 25 centimetres of snow on parts of Eastern Newfoundland today. 

The highest amounts of snow were recorded in Gander and Terra Nova National Park.

Rodney Barney, who is with the Gander Weather Office, said the storm should peter out over the next few hours.

[The] low pressure system that's been bringing the snow is now kind of moving over the top of the Burin Peninsula, and that's going to be tracking out over Trinity Bay over the next couple of hours, and then out to sea," said Barney.

Paul Mackey, the deputy city manager for public works, said this has been the stormiest December in about a dozen years.

"It's been a bit of a battle this morning, because we're having very heavy snowfall, very intense,” Mackey told CBC News.

“And it's a heavier, wetter snow than we've had over the last couple of weeks, so that adds to mix, and makes it a little more challenging for the operators."

During peak plowing operations, the city will have about 45 pieces of heavy equipment on the roads, plus another nine trucks dealing with major arterials.

“This could be shaping up for a long winter if it continues this way,” Mackey said. 

The City of St. John's closed all of its facilities on Friday morning. Garbage collection continued, and the Robin Hood Bay Facility's residential drop-off remained open.

Rain on the way

Blair Sparkes, with Environment Canada's weather office in Gander, said the system landed in the metro area before 7 a.m.

Sparkes said people in St. John's and surrounding areas can expect a large amount of snow in a short period.

"We got snow moving across the Avalon there right now, and it's fairly heavy what we're seeing on the radar," he said.

"We're expecting anywhere from 15 to 20 centimetres across the Avalon, probably going to fall in a fairly short period of time now, from now up until around noon time."

Sparkes said visibility will be reduced with snow falling so hard, and winds will pick up later in the morning creating blowing snow.

Temperatures are set to rise in the afternoon, with snow turning to wet flurries or drizzle by later Friday afternoon.

Central and other areas of the island should expect periods of snowfall throughout the day Friday.