Nfld. & Labrador

Fierce Newfoundland storm makes some roads impassable for even the plows

Whiteout conditions on highways in central Newfoundland made it impossible for plows to operate and motorists were told to stay safe and stay home.

Most flights cancelled or delayed

After a stormy night, strong winds and heavy snow continued to batter much of eastern and central Newfoundland Wednesday, with some places still under a blizzard warning throughout the afternoon.

Whiteout conditions in central Newfoundland made the Burgeo highway unsafe even for the snowplows, and the Department of Transportation and Works advised drivers to stay off the road.

They also warned motorists to steer clear of the Trans-Canada Highway from Badger to Birchy Narrows and parts of routes 380 and 390 because of whiteout conditions.

Newfoundland Power customers in Templeman, Cape Freels, Deadman's Bay, Newtown, Pound Cove and Lumsden.lost power around 5:30 p.m., according to Newfound Power. Bad road conditions made it impossible for crews to get out to fix the issue and the company estimates power won't be restored until 9 a.m. Thursday morning.

In St. John's, the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary closed Kenmount Road from Mount Carson Avenue to Brougham Drive so snow removal vehicles could help dig out a few cars that went off the road.

At St. John's International Airport, most flights are cancelled or delayed, after 22 centimetres of snow fell overnight. The airport authority said 4,000 passengers had been impacted so far.

The terminal's waiting areas and gift shops were empty as one family stranded en route to Ontario came to terms with their fate.

"It's fine. We're rolling with the punches. It's Canada, right?" said Derrick Flynn, whose hopes to be home in Thunder Bay had been replaced with the task of finding a hotel for the night.

Gander reported 24 centimetres overnight as high winds caused heavy drifting, with visibility remaining poor throughout the afternoon.

With widespread closures of schools and businesses across the island, plenty of people spent their morning digging out, including a pair of international students who said they'd never seen anything like it.

"Back in China, we don 't have snow like this. Oh god!" said Gin Gie Fu, taking a short break after 20 minutes shovelling snow to exclaim, "I'm dying!"

Another new Newfoundlander was a bit more welcoming to the blast of winter.

"I would rather read a book instead of shovelling snow, but I don't mind doing it, because I think it's a good workout for me," said Dastia Ndoki, originally from the Congo.

Others used the exercise as an excuse to dream of extra calories. 

"To be honest with you, I'd rather be cuddled in bed right now, nice and warm. Have a hot cocoa or something, maybe some fresh baked cookies," Dawson Crane told CBC, mid-scoop.

While Dastia Ndoki says he'd rather be reading, he did admit snow shovelling was a good workout. (Bruce Tilley/CBC)

Government offices were closed for the day in St. John's and Mount Pearl, along with many recreation facilities, medical and dental clinics.

Most schools are still closed for the holidays, but some post-secondary campuses were forced to cancel classes due to the weather.

Not everybody closed, however, with some downtown businesses clearing their sidewalks and parking spaces for any brave customers.

After a a break in the inclement weather on Wednesday morning, a second storm system is sweeping through, bringing more snow with it.

High winds and heavy snow ramped up again on Wednesday afternoon. (Mark Quinn/CBC)

In central Newfoundland, the second storm is expected to bring an additional 15-35 centimetres of snow as winds gust to 130 km/h.

For St. John's and vicinity, another 10 centimetres is expected to fall before Thursday morning, with winds gusting to 110 km/h.

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