Nfld. & Labrador

Warm weather hindering access to coastal Labrador

Unseasonably warm temperatures along coastal Labrador are creating messy conditions, keeping people in the southern region cut off from essential supplies, including fresh food.

Planes, snowmobiles can't navigate slush

Unseasonably warm temperatures along coastal Labrador are creating messy conditions, keeping people in the southern region cut off from essential supplies, including fresh food.

The temperature in the area in mid-February is normally around –10 C, but for the past week, it has been above the freezing mark.

That's turned solid ice to slush in places like William's Harbour, a tiny community of about 60 residents on the south coast only accessible by air or water. As a result, snowmobiles are being prevented from crossing the harbour to reach other communities.

Planes haven't been able to land there for about a week as high winds have been whipping up the snow and creating whiteout conditions.

Local resident George Russell said people are starting to feel the effects of the weather-imposed isolation.

"The stores do keep a bit of stuff on hand, but none of the fresh stuff — vegetables, fruits, nothing of that nature," he told CBC News.

Russell said residents rely on the normally thick ice this time of year to be able to travel by snowmobile to get to other communities for supplies.

"It seems like that's basically gone. It's water now, by the looks of it," he said.

Farther down the coast, in Norman Bay, the ice is thick enough to cross, but it's covered with a slushy mixture of water and snow, which is preventing planes from bringing in supplies.

People are able to travel to get supplies, but it isn't easy, said Norman Bay resident George Roberts.

"[There's] about a foot of slob [slush] on the ice now, and some of the boys were in yesterday picking up a few groceries, but they had a hard old muck. They were four or five hours getting back," he said.

The forecast is calling for much the same weather for the rest of the week. Residents say they don't expect planes to be able to fly in to their communities before next week.