Thousands without power across eastern Newfoundland as Hurricane Larry wreaks havoc

Well over 10,000 customers are without power as southeast Newfoundland, including St. John's, feels the effects of Hurricane Larry.

Some damage visible on social media; storm surge larger than expected

Hurricane Larry made landfall as a Category 1 storm, bringing rough seas and strong winds. (Submitted by Alick Tsui)

UPDATE: Follow CBC's coverage of Hurricane Larry's aftermath Saturday by following this link.

Hurricane Larry brought intense winds and heavy rainfall to eastern Newfoundland Friday night into Saturday morning.

Well over 10,000 customers were without power as daylight approached on Saturday, mostly on the Avalon Peninsula, which includes St. John's, and social media posts appeared to show damage to structures including a concert tent and an elementary school.   

Larry made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane. As of 3:14 a.m. NT, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h, with gusts surpassing 180km/h in exposed and elevated areas. Cape St. Mary's lighthouse reported a peak gust of 182 km/h on Friday evening.

Waves were reaching heights of 3.6 metres in Argentia, above what was anticipated, said CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler. 

The latest tropical cyclone information statement from Environment Canada said a "notable" storm surge event occurred near the Burin Peninsula and Avalon Peninsula.

The U.S. and Canadian hurricane centres had slightly different landfall times and locations. The Canadian Hurricane Centre pegged it at 1:30 a.m. NT just west of Long Harbour, N.L., on the Avalon Peninsula.

St. John's International Airport recorded winds reaching sustained speeds of 96 km/h and recorded a gust of 145 km/h just after 2 a.m. NT.

Social media users reported flashes of lightning, but Brauweiler said the flashes are likely "power arcing" caused by power lines down during rainfall.

The Newfoundland Power website was reporting more than 10,000 customers without power Saturday across eastern Newfoundland due to severe weather. Areas without power included St. John's, Mount Pearl, Whitbourne and the Burin Peninsula.

Jennifer Massey, who lives in downtown St. John's, said the wind blew the shingles off her roof. She said her power was out, and she felt like she was in a "Victorian novel."

"It's a little bit eerie, a bit creepy," she told CBC News.

She said she hopes the large, older trees in St. John's make it through the night undamaged, but the extent of the damage won't be known until Saturday morning.

Reports of damage start coming in

Just before 3 a.m., reports on social media showed that the performance tent near Quidi Vidi Lake in place for the Iceberg Alley concert festival had suffered extensive damage.

Iceberg Alley cancelled its planned April Wine concert on Friday evening due to the storm.

A photo shared on Twitter appeared to show that a section of the roof of Mary Queen of Peace Elementary school had been damaged.

In some areas, about 30 millimetres of rain fell in a very short period of time.

Earlier Friday, meteorologist Rob Carroll said Larry's peak would be a few hours, starting around midnight to about 5 a.m.

Environment Canada had the entire Avalon Peninsula under a hurricane warning but expected they will end "in a few hours." 

On Thursday, government officials and the Canadian Red Cross insisted people prepare themselves and their homes for the imminent storm. 

Karen Roache, who lives in St. John's near Quidi Vidi Lake, heeded the advice and was busy around her property Thursday afternoon, trimming branches, securing fences and chairs and making sure her kayak was tightly packed away on her patio.

"It's best to be prepared," Roache told CBC News. 

"I'm concerned about the trees. We've got a lot of really tall maples in the back. So we're worried with the leaves on them they're going to be really top-heavy. I'm hoping there's not too much damage."

On Friday, the City of St. John's gave a breakdown of how it's preparing for the storm. Lynnann Winsor, deputy city manager of public works, told reporters city staff have been clearing culverts, catch-basins and waterways of debris while also preparing sandbags and barricades.

This is Hurricane Larry's track as of early Friday afternoon. (CBC)

Winsor said extra city staff are on standby Friday night and throughout the weekend. The city recommends residents be prepared to be on their own for 72 hours, according to Winsor. She said the city will address the public's needs, such as charging stations and shelters, Saturday morning after the storm.

Residents are reminded to call the city's access centre to report damage and hazards at 311 or 754-2489.

Chief Sherry Colford of the St. John's regional fire department reminded the public to not call 911 in the event of a power outage or property damage. 

"Use 911 for emergency services only. If you have an immediate threat to life or your property, such as a fire, certainly call 911," Colford said.

Sean LaCour, Newfoundland Power's vice-president of customer operations, said crews have been preparing for the possible damage from Hurricane Larry for the past few days. He said the high wind, rather than rain, is most likely to cause major damage.

"The potential for damage caused by trees and limbs coming in contact with the power lines is our biggest concern," he said. 

He advised people to stay in their homes and report any power outages. He said trees and power lines may be down on Saturday, and debris will likely continue flying around in the wind for a period of time after the worst of the storm.

He said areas with higher elevations or bigger trees could see more extensive damage. Power crews will be assessing the damage Saturday morning.

"We'll have a better handle on how much damage, how long people are going to be off by [Saturday] afternoon."

On Saturday, Newfoundland Power will have its full workforce out repairing damage, he said, and advised people to remain in their homes so crews can easily access damaged areas.

Krissy Holmes of The St. John's Morning Show will provide live updates on CBC Radio, while CBC N.L. meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler will provide the latest on Larry's path. You can also get up-to-date information on

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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