Winter storm set for eastern Newfoundland on Saturday

The first snowstorm of the season is set to hit eastern Newfoundland on Saturday.

Environment Canada says more than 20 cm of snow expected by Sunday, combined with strong winds

Say it ain't snow! Environment Canada says more than 20 cm of snow is expected for eastern Newfoundland on Saturday, and when combined with 80 km/h wind gusts will make for a messy day. (CBC)

The first snowstorm of the season is set to hit eastern Newfoundland on Saturday.

Winter storm watches are in effect for the Avalon, Bonavista and Burin Peninsulas, as well as the Clarenville region.

Winter storm watches are in effect for eastern Newfoundland for Saturday. (Environment Canada)

A low pressure system is set to approach eastern Newfoundland from the south starting Saturday morning, bringing snow that will intensify as the day goes on. The heaviest snow in the St. John's area is expected between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., which combined with the wind will make for poor driving conditions for the remainder of the day.

According to Environment Canada meteorologist Wanda Batten, the Avalon is expected to get about 15 cm by Saturday evening with 80 km/h wind gusts, which will make for a messy night.

"This is going to be quite the storm," she told CBC Radio's St. John's Morning Show.

"Winds are going to pick up throughout the evening and toward rush hour. It's going to be pretty gusty, we're looking at really strong northerly winds. With all of that freshly fallen snow you're going to get a lot of blowing snow, especially over those exposed areas."

Another 10 to 15 cm of snow is expected to fall overnight Saturday before tapering off Sunday morning.

Could become blizzard

Even though right now winter storm watches are in effect, Batten said that will likely change to storm warnings and could even evolve into a full blizzard warning by Saturday. A blizzard warning comes into effect when visibility is considered very poor.

"I wouldn't be shocked one bit if it ends up being a blizzard, but it's definitely going to be a winter storm," she said.

"It's going to be a really bad night, regardless of what we issue."

While the system should move out by Sunday, Batten said weather conditions will still remain unsettled for the rest of the weekend.

"Stuff seems to move out pretty quickly and the snow should be tapering off throughout the morning hours," she said. 

"Then we're into what I call basically unsettled circulation weather. So, northwesterly winds, scattered flurries and pretty chilly for the next several days."

Western Newfoundland

While Saturday's storm isn't expected in western Newfoundland, the Port aux Basques area will experience strong winds throughout Friday before tapering off in the evening.

Marine Atlantic ferry crossings in the Cabot Strait were cancelled on Friday because of the winds.

With files from the St. John's Morning Show