Skip to main content
Open this photo in gallery:

A car drives downs a snow-covered street in St. John's, on Jan. 2, 2019.Holly McKenzie-Sutter/The Canadian Press

Newfoundlanders were shovelling out Wednesday after a powerful storm that dumped as much as 42 centimetres of snow in some areas by midafternoon.

Travel by air and sea was disrupted, and most government offices were closed.

By 3 p.m., Gander airport had recorded 42 cm of snowfall, with St. John’s airport reporting up to 30 cm and Deer Lake airport on the west side of the island reporting 20 cm.

Although much of St. John’s was shut, Chris Kelly was out clearing snow Wednesday afternoon in front of a Water Street furniture store.

“I’d prefer not to be out in a blizzard, but everything has to be cleared, so I had to come in and do it,” he said. “I’ve got a Ski-Doo so I’m looking forward to spending some time on it the next couple of days.”

Another woman trudging downtown for a coffee with her daughter proclaimed, “If Christmas is over, winter should be over.”

Constable James Cadigan of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary said the capital city was essentially shut down for snow clearing and urged residents to avoid the roads, only driving with extreme caution if necessary.

Snowplows were driving up and down the streets amid conditions that were near whiteout shortly after noon.

The snow tapered by late morning and became heavier later in the day, with winds potentially gusting from 100 to 130 kilometres an hour in late afternoon in some areas along the northeast coast.

Environment Canada meteorologist David Neil said the combination of strong winds and fresh snow would make for treacherous road conditions into Wednesday evening and possibly Thursday morning.

“When those gusts pick up with that fresh snow, you really can’t see anything,” Mr. Neil said.

“The snow will taper off throughout the night, but the wind will still stay quite strong into tomorrow morning, so there is that possibility still that even tomorrow morning there could still be some occasional blowing snow over some roads and some parts of the highway.”

The city of St. John’s announced that all facilities would be closed for the day, and bus services delayed the start of their runs.

Memorial University and the provincial government closed for the morning. An update later in the afternoon announced that government offices in St. John’s and Mount Pearl would remain closed for the day, aside from a few employees advised to work.

Marine Atlantic cancelled its lunchtime sailings, while cancellations were also stacking up at the St. John’s International Airport.

A tweet from the airport reported that the weather was “playing havoc with flight operations” and warned of more impacts throughout the day, advising passengers to check with airlines regarding cancellations.

Harry Summers owns a snow-clearing company in downtown St. John’s and said his team had been on the roads since the early morning. “We’re very, very busy, starting this morning at 3 o’clock,” he said from his office.

Heavy snow pounded the island as the St. John’s, central and Bonavista areas were the hardest hit, with forecasts saying they could ultimately get anywhere between 30 and 45 cm of snow.

Follow related authors and topics

Authors and topics you follow will be added to your personal news feed in Following.

Interact with The Globe