Up to 70 cm of snow expected as blizzard heads to Newfoundland

A major winter storm meteorologists are calling the “storm of the winter” continues to tear toward Newfoundland, and the brunt of it will slam into eastern and central parts of the island.

“This is the worst I’ve seen in years,” said Wanda Batten, a meteorologist with the Environment Canada office in Gander. “This is the big blizzard you’re gonna be talking about for years to come.”

Environment Canada has much of Newfoundland under blizzard and storm surge warnings, including the Avalon Peninsula, Burin, Bonavista, Clarenville and Gander.

This comes after weeks of snowy weather, with 42 centimetres of snow on the ground at the St. John’s International Airport as of Thursday afternoon.

Strong winds and visibility near zero are expected Thursday, with 30 to 50 centimetres of snow in some areas and 50 to 70 centimetres in the Avalon and Bonavista areas.

Maximum wind gusts could reach up to 140 km/h along coastal areas.

The storm is expected to last through Friday and possibly into Saturday.

“Quite a significant storm with regards to how wide and how strong and intense this one is gonna be,” Batten said.

Avoid travel if possible

St. John’s has had over 170 centimetres of snow since December, and the city says it will talk to the media Thursday about how they plan to prepare for and deal with another round of heavy snow.

Environment Canada is also warning travellers to make other plans.

Visibility on roads is expected to be zero at times, and Batten said conditions will be treacherous for both drivers and pedestrians.

“It’s quite a big storm, and quite a nasty one,” Batten said.

Both WestJet and Air Canada have posted travel advisories, meaning change fees are waived for flights scheduled from now until Friday or Saturday.

The St. John’s International Airport Authority says the weather will result in flight disruptions and is advising passengers to check with their airline on the status of their flight before coming to the airport. A statement said the airport’s winter operations team is preparing runways and equipment for the harsh conditions.

PAL Airlines has said the weather will affect flights in St. John’s and Gander on Friday.

Province urges caution

Meanwhile, the province has issued a public advisory, citing the possibility of “poor to near zero visibility,” and warning of possible coastal flooding and elevated water levels.

Environment Canada has a storm surge warning, advising of possible 80-centimetre surges combined with 10-metre waves, which could damage coastal infrastructure, especially in northern communities.

The province is asking residents and communities to clear their fire hydrants of snow and ice if possible, and said snowplows will be active during the blizzard.


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