Storm-battered Newfoundlanders advised to stay indoors
Published Friday, January 11, 2013 6:16AM EST
Last Updated Friday, January 11, 2013 11:02PM EST
Newfoundlanders battered by a fierce winter storm are being advised to hunker down today, rather than venture out onto streets made impassable by strong winds and accumulating snow.
The storm has also knocked out electricity across a large swath of the province, from the Avalon and Burin Peninsulas in the east, to Clarenville and Gander in the north, and Corner Brook in the west of the island.
According to bulletins posted on the Newfoundland Power website Friday, power to thousands of residences and businesses was knocked out at approximately 6:30 a.m. NT, and it could be at least 5 p.m. local time before it's restored to affected areas.
In the meantime, the forecast that had warned the storm would dump up to 80 centimetres of snow on the region continues to meet expectations.
So far, more than 35 centimetres of snow have fallen on St. John's International Airport, where flights were cancelled after runways were closed Thursday night, with even more measured in some areas where snow is being blown by the wind.
The snow is expected to continue falling until it turns to rain Friday evening.
The storm started Thursday afternoon and, since then, it hasn’t stopped dumping snow and blowing winds at up to 100 kilometres an hour.
Schools and transportation services throughout Avalon Peninsula have suspended operations for the day, while municipal offices and recreational facilities in St. John’s are also closed.
The province's largest health authority, Eastern Health, said non-essential services and elective surgeries were cancelled for the day, although emergency departments would keep their doors open.
The storm is causing whiteout conditions and heavy drifting, prompting Environment Canada to issue blowing snow warnings for areas as far west as Gander. Officials are also warning people to stay off the roads if possible, noting there were a number of minor accidents overnight.
CTV's Fred Hutton reported early Friday that the flurries in St. John’s were expected to change into drizzle by the evening, putting pressure on officials to clear the roads as quickly as they can.
“I just spoke to our meteorologists at AMEC… and he said we’re expecting another 20 to 30 centimetres before noon today and then another 10 centimetres overnight,” Hutton told CTV Canada AM early Friday morning from St. John’s.
“But you better hurry up and clean it up because then it’s going to turn to rain. And when you get 80 cm of snow with rain, that’s going to cause big problems.”
Hutton says for now, most residents are staying indoors.
“It’s probably going to be at least Saturday before everybody gets a chance to dig out from this,” he said.