Cold temperatures close schools in Bay St. George for second day

Staff ~ The Western Star
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Letter carrier Madonna Gabriel is dressed for the bitterly cold weather as she checks out mail for a residence in Stephenville on Tuesday. Temperatures dipped to a wind chill factor of -30 C.

STEPHENVILLE - For the second consecutive day, secondary schools in the Bay St. George area, including in Stephenville and on the Port au Port Peninsula were closed, mostly due to sub-zero temperatures.

However, it was blustery at times and police were warning people to be careful when driving. A road was blocked on a section of White's Road leading into Stephenville Crossing for part of the morning but was later cleared.

The cold temperatures, which ranged in the mid- to high teens Celcius with wind chills of up to -30 C, also resulted in the closing of Western College. However, College of the North Atlantic remained open throughout the day.

Bay St. George RCMP said the detachment didn't have any weather-related accidents up to late Tuesday afternoon.

Jeff Thompson, assistant director of education programs for the Western School District, said weather closed schools in Stephenville and there was a late start on the Northern Peninsula.

He said wind chill may have been a factor in closing the schools, but there is no written policy in the Western School district on wind chill. He said parents can always make the call to keep their children home because of weather, and they can call the schools and tell them that, but white out conditions were the likely culprit in any closures.

"We did have some schools closed this (Tuesday) morning, but it was more around extreme drifting and road drift-outs," Thompson told The Western Star. "On the Port au Port Peninsula there was a lot of drifting with the way the wind was out there."

Tara Laing, Marine Atlantic's communications officer said wind delayed ferry crossings overnight Monday. She said barring further high wind conditions which were in the forecast, the schedule was expected to be back on track this morning.

The MV Joseph and Clara Smallwood was scheduled to dock in Port aux Basques Monday evening, but didn't arrive until 7:30 a.m. Tuesday. That held up the MV Caribou until it arrived at 9:15 a.m.

The Caribou, due to leave Port aux Basques Tuesday morning, left about 2:30 p.m. and the Smallwood, due to leave North Sydney at 11:30 a.m. was rescheduled for 5:30 p.m., making it late arriving in Port aux Basques and for it's departure from the port.

According to the provincial Transportation department's web site, the Trans-Canada Highway was in poor condition between Corner Brook and Port aux Basques with zero visibility in places where snow was blowing. The Stephenville access road had heavy drifting and was occasionally impassable.

The Northern Peninsula north of Gros Morne had mostly dry roads with snow covered sections and drifting in some areas, although driving conditions from Cow Head to Hawkes Bay were poor.

Organizations: Western College, College of the North Atlantic, Marine Atlantic Smallwood Trans-Canada Highway

Geographic location: STEPHENVILLE, St. George, Port au Port Peninsula Port aux Basques Northern Peninsula Western Star North Sydney Corner Brook Cow Head Hawkes Bay

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