Schools closed, flights cancelled, buses pulled off the road as a snowstorm hits

A snow covered Water Street in St. John's on Tuesday morning.  In the morning it began to snow heavily over much of eastern and southern Newfoundland, with strong winds causing drifts.  (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC - photo credit)

A snow covered Water Street in St. John’s on Tuesday morning. In the morning it began to snow heavily over much of eastern and southern Newfoundland, with strong winds causing drifts. (Henrike Wilhelm/CBC – photo credit)

As winds picked up and snow began to fall in eastern Newfoundland Tuesday morning, closures began to roll in.

The English School District of Newfoundland and Labrador closed all schools on the Avalon Peninsula, Bonavista Peninsula, Burin Peninsula and other areas of eastern Newfoundland around 6 a.m

In St. John’s, Metrobus pulled its drivers off the road, citing weather conditions. An update was promised for later in the day. All incoming and outgoing flights were canceled at St. John’s International Airport on Tuesday. Early flights for Wednesday will also be cancelled.

“There’s pretty much a closed sign on the Avalon,” said CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler. “So just enjoy Valentine’s Day indoors while the snow blows and try to stay off the streets.”

Most of eastern Newfoundland and the south coast are expected to feel the brunt of the storm, with between 30 and 45 inches of snow forecast between early Tuesday morning and Wednesday noon. Wind gusts of around 50 mph are expected, with peak winds reaching 100 by the end of the storm.

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

Brauweiler said the snow will turn to freezing rain around midday before turning back to snow on Wednesday. This window may provide time to start cleaning up some of the snow before it starts again.

Conditions improve slightly as ice pellets replace some of the falling snow. As soon as the snow sets in again, visibility is drastically reduced.

“We could see up to 50 centimeters in some areas. But it’s really a widespread event,” she said. “We have winter storm warnings as far as Gander, Bonavista North and also the Connaigre Peninsula.”

Other notable closures include:

  • memorial university.

  • College of the North Atlantic.

  • Academy Canada and Eastern Academy.

  • Keyin College (Bay Roberts and St. John’s), with online classes.

  • Eastern Health Services, including breastfeeding support groups in Placentia, CBS and Paradise; Vaccine Clinics at Mount Pearl Square; the Mundy Pond walk-in clinic.

  • Door counseling services in St. John’s offering services online or by phone only. Patients can call 709-752-4903 to schedule a phone or video session.

  • Most liquor stores on the Avalon Peninsula.

  • Association for New Canadians locations in St. John’s, Clarenville and Gander.

  • All dishes in St. John’s.

  • Facilities of the City of Mount Pearl.

  • City of St. John’s facilities and Chillfest events before 3pm (update at 11am).

  • Elaine Dobbin Center for Autism.

SWAT team on deck

While everyone else hunkered down for the day, Deanne Power and her group of big drill operators waited to be called to action.

Power is an administrator on the Severe Weather Assistance Team – or SWAT. The group was formed with the aim of transporting essential workers to and from their workplaces on days when buses and taxis are not running.

Power said the group came together ahead of Snowmageddon in 2020, but the historic snowstorm and resulting state of emergency cemented their purpose.

“One goal is to transport essential workers to and from work so people can come home to their families and go to work to replace them,” she said.

Tuesday could be a busy day for their 20-30 volunteer drivers, all of whom drive modified vehicles like jeeps or pickups. Power said they must first ensure all other modes of transport are grounded so as not to take business away from local businesses.

“It could be a very busy day for anyone who is available to drive,” she said.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador


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