Nfld. & Labrador

Eastern Newfoundland digs out of first major snowfall as storm approaches Labrador

As blustery weather moves north toward Labrador — bringing 50 to 100 centimetres of snow — Avalon residents strap on their skis and snowshoes for the first time this winter.

Provincial plows back on the roads as cleanup begins

Work began early Friday morning in downtown St. John's to clean up the 25 centimetres of snow that fell on the city. (Francesca Swann/CBC)

After winter's first significant entrance to the eastern part of the province, parts of Labrador are now bracing for up to a metre of snow over the weekend.

Public safety officials warned residents along the north coast to have 72-hour emergency kits ready, citing possible snow accumulations between 50 and 100 centimetres and winds up to 90 km/h. 

As skies cleared in the east, metro residents spent much of Friday digging out after a storm dumped as much as 30 centimetres on parts of the Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas.

But alongside overwhelmed shovellers and plow operators, St. John's leisure activity enthusiasts revelled in the first substantial snowfall of the winter, with clusters of snowshoers and skiers taking to Pippy Park's trails as the sun broke out Friday morning.

At the base of a steep hill in Victoria Park in St. John's, Mitchell Clowe and a clan of intrepid snowboarders had already constructed ramps and carved out a run by midday.

"Me and the b'ys got up early," Clowe said joyously, nodding toward his partner. "Ask the woman, I've been talking about it all week."

He's counting down the days until the White Hills ski resort in Clarenville finally opens for the season. The resort announced on Twitter on Friday afternoon it's aiming for a Jan. 30 start date.

"It's wicked," Clowe said. "I'm happy to see the snow finally get here."

Snowboarder Mitchell Clowe grins at Thursday's snowfall, which he's been waiting all winter for. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Schools and municipal buildings in the St. John's area delayed their openings Friday, as blustery weather moved across eastern and northern parts of Newfoundland and headed north toward Labrador.

Environment Canada meteorologist Veronica Sullivan said 25 centimetres of snow was recorded at St. John's International Airport, with another five more centimetres sprinkled throughout the day.

Sullivan said local reports suggest most people got around 30 centimetres, with the highest amounts around the northeastern Avalon Peninsula and on the Bonavista Peninsula.

Environment Canada lifted its winter storm warnings for St. John's and Bay Roberts at 8:15 a.m. Friday, but warnings remained in effect for the Bonavista Penisula and the north coast of Newfoundland.

Delayed opening for schools

The Newfoundland and Labrador English School District announced shortly after 6 a.m. NT that schools in and around St. John's would have their openings delayed by three hours to allow snow clearing to continue.

Buses also ran three hours later than their regularly scheduled time.

Schools on the Bonavista Peninsula and through parts of central Newfoundland closed for the morning, while schools in St. Anthony and St. Lunaire-Griquet shut for the day.

The College of the North Atlantic's Bonavista and Clarenville campuses and the St. John's campus of Memorial University also remained dark for the morning, allowing for snow clearing. 

'Slick' roads

RCMP Const. Jeff Wiseman warned of "pretty slick" roads on the northeast Avalon Friday morning, with poor visibility in some areas.

Wiseman noted snow and slush still covering roadways, and advised people to stay home unless absolutely necessary.

"Anybody that's out and about, please make sure that you are reducing your speeds according to the road conditions," he said. "If you don't need to be out, of course, don't be out on the roads."

Wiseman said if drivers do need to be on the roads, they should keep their headlights on and leave extra space between vehicles.

A City of St. John's plow clears snow in the early stages of a storm on Thursday. (Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Royal Newfoundland Constabulary Const. James Cadigan agreed, and says to expect icy conditions and be cautious on the roads.

"Certainly, visibility is everything. People are gonna be still walking and using pedestrian ways, and obviously they're not going to be quite as clear as they would be any other day," he said.

"So we've gotta be really vigilant as we're making our way about the community today."

Other delayed openings

Municipal buildings and facilities in St. John's and Mount Pearl closed Friday morning, as well as provincial government offices in the St. John's area.

Garbage and recycling collection in St. John's, Conception Bay South and Portugal Cove-St. Philip's will be postponed until Monday.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro worked to restore power on Fogo Island, with crews using a snowmobile to access power lines. 

Provincial snowplows were back on the roads Friday morning. The Department of Transportation pulled them from a number of highways on the Avalon Thursday evening because of whiteout conditions.

Route 101, also known as the Long Harbour Access Road, was closed early Friday.

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