Island engulfed in heavy snow, hurricane-force winds

Chris
Chris Quigley
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It’s the first week of spring, but winter roared back to life Wednesday.

An intense low pressure system engulfed the island, bringing with it heavy snow and freezing rain totalling an expected 10 to 15 centimetres, and wind gust warnings of up to 160 km/h on the west coast and 180 km/h in the Wreckhouse area.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police issued a warning Wednesday evening advising unsafe road conditions, including zero visibility, drifting snow, high winds and snow covered, slippery roads for all areas surrounding Corner Brook and Deer Lake, as well as areas surrounding Port aux Basques and Stephenville and the Bay St. George area.

The Burgeo highway was reported as unpassable, as was the Trans-Canada Highway between Doyles and Port aux Basques, and Route 470 from Port aux Basques to Rose Blanche. Snow clearing services were temporarily removed from those locations due to whiteout conditions.

According to The Weather Network’s website, the system will track over Southwestern Newfoundland this morning, before continuing to track over the west coast, to lie over White Bay by this afternoon.

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Wednesday night

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On Wednesday night, Royal Newfoundland Constabularly Sgt. Brad Elliott reported a telephone cable down in the Curling area of the city, which he said Newfoundland Power already responded to.

“They have it tied up so vehicles can pass, but it’s still hanging pretty low,” he said. “If a tractor-trailer went through it, it might hook it or something.”

Only one house was left without telephone service.

“It’s a traffic concern more than anything,” he said.

Elliott also said a car was broken down on Riverside Drive, which could impede traffic. He said, from what he was told by other RNC members, that road and Griffin Drive were the most hazardous to travel on, with Griffin Drive reaching near impassable levels by around 10:30 p.m.

Grenfell Campus, Memorial University of Newfoundland cancelled all classes, labs and non-academic programming that began at 5 p.m. or later on Wednesday evening. The Ferriss Hodgett Library was also closed at 5 p.m.

All Marine Atlantic ferry crossings scheduled for Wednesday and today were cancelled because of high winds and seas. Customers reserved for those sailings will now depart 11:45 a.m. Friday, weather permitting.

Customers can check the travel advisory section at marine-atlantic.ca or call 1-800-341-7981 for more information.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro issued a release saying it had activated its emergency preparedness protocols on Wednesday. Staff are on standby where necessary, with fleet vehicles fueled and stocked. The Energy Control Centre is monitoring the storm and all stand-by generation has been tested. Customers were urged to prepare for possible outages.

Hydro customers can get updates by calling 1-888-737-1296 or at www.nlh.nl.ca.

Geographic location: Corner Brook

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