CORNER BROOK — It was a day when it seemed the weather couldn’t make up its mind.
Despite the odd sunny break, though, most of Tuesday was nothing short of treacherous as high winds caused white-out conditions and zero visibility throughout western Newfoundland.
Schools, government offices and some businesses decided to close for the morning. By midday, most had agreed to stay shut for the remainder of the day.
Driving was downright dangerous throughout the western region. Conditions were particularly bad in the Corner Brook area as several vehicles went off the road because they simply could not tell where they were going.
The portion of the Trans-Canada Highway between the Riverside Drive and Massey Drive exits to Corner Brook had to be closed Tuesday morning because of accidents and a number of transport trucks stuck on the road.
One eastbound tractor trailer went off the road and into an already abandoned car that was in the ditch near the Lewin Parkway exit into Corner Brook Tuesday morning. The occupants of the car were already long gone by the time the large truck went off the road and no one was reported injured.
Traffic was re-routed into Corner Brook until the Trans-Canada Highway was re-opened mid-afternoon Tuesday. The ditched car and transport truck were still there, but were not obstructing the flow of traffic.
The Royal Canadian Mounted Police said they were waiting for conditions to improve before attempting to remove the vehicles.
Even though the road was re-opened, the police were still advising motorists not to travel on the highway because of the whiteouts and slippery conditions.
“The roads are slippery,” said Const. Chris Dawe of the RCMP’s Corner Brook detachment. “With that freezing rain we had just before it turned to snow, you have a layer of ice beneath the snow.”
There was a three-vehicle accident on the Lewin Parkway. No one was hurt, but there was damage to two of the vehicles involved. The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said there were no other weather-related incidents of a serious nature Tuesday.
The persistent snow squalls throughout the day left nearly all roads snow-covered and slippery with drifting snow and zero visibility in places. Conditions caused the closure of Route 460 from Cape St. George to Mainland on the Port au Port Peninsula.
Not even the wheels of justice could go anywhere Tuesday, which is usually the busiest day of the week for provincial court in Corner Brook with first appearances scheduled. Both the provincial court and the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador cancelled all matters on their respective dockets for the day.
Some areas of the Bay of Islands, the Northern Peninsula and southwestern Newfoundland experienced unscheduled power outages Tuesday.
It was no better on the water. The MV Sir Robert Bond, which was supposed to have set sail for Blanc Sablon from Corner Brook on Monday morning remained docked in the city into Tuesday evening. According to the ferry operator, CAI Nunatsiavut Marine Inc., the reason for the delays was the storm-force winds and 11-metre high seas in the Gulf of St. Lawrence.
Late Tuesday afternoon, the ferry operator said it was scheduling its next departure from Corner Brook for 7 a.m., with an estimated time of arrival in Blanc Sablon for 7 p.m.
Two of Marine Atlantic’s ferries, the MV Highlanders and the MV Blue Puttees, are both docked in Port aux Basques and North Sydney respectively and weren’t expected to sail until at least late Tuesday night.
According to Environment Canada, the snow squall warning that was in effect for Monday and into Tuesday was to continue into Tuesday evening. The forecast as of press time was that these persistent snow squalls would gradually weaken overnight, but would still be causing zero visibility and rapid accumulations of snow in some areas.
Strong southwesterly winds from an intense low-pressure system off the Labrador coast were expected to continue to impact the island portion of the province with peak winds gusting to 110 km/hr along parts of the west coast of the Northern Peninsula.
Additional accumulations of five to 10 centimetres were expected in the heaviest squalls Tuesday night.
High waves and pounding surf were also expected to continue along the west coast Tuesday evening.