2017 could be boon year for iceberg sightings along Newfoundland coast

While much of the pack ice that had moved into many of Newfoundland's harbours and bays has started to move out, the next few months could bring a significant number of icebergs along the coast.

Ice conditions improved over the weekend along the northern Avalon Peninsula, after winds pushed sea ice into Conception Bay, Trinity Bay and even St. John's harbour earlier this month.

"We've definitely got some reprieve with some southerly winds which has lessened the pressure but there's still very heavy pack ice close to shore," said Rebecca Acton-Bond, acting superintendent of ice operations with the Canadian Coast Guard.

"So anybody looking to get out fishing or anything like that, there's still significant ice close to shore."

Acton-Bond said it's a different story on the southern Avalon, where ice is still drifting into St. Mary's Bay. As well, pack ice all along the coast of Labrador will continue to drift south towards Newfoundland for quite some time, she said.


While the wind and temperatures will ultimately decide what happens, Acton-Bond said right now it seems there should be quite a few icebergs for Newfoundland's early summer tourism season.

The iceberg charts provided by the International Ice Patrol show 66 icebergs recently off the southern Avalon, 93 off Black Tickle, Labrador and even 34 off of western Newfoundland — which is extremely high for this time of year.

"There are certainly a significant amount of icebergs out there. When you look at the iceberg chart it's truly incredible," said Acton-Bond.

"Usually you don't see these numbers until the end of May or June. So the amount of icebergs that we're seeing right now, it really is quite something."

Acton-Bond said the high number of icebergs shows a significant calving event took place in Greenland. Ice calving is the process where ice chunks break loose from the edge of a glacier.

She said while it's likely the icebergs will soon be visible from the northern shore of the island, it all really depends on the wind. With regards to how the ice could affect ferries and ships near the coast, she said that will also be determined by how the weather plays out.

"It's kind of the nature of the beast. It's the North Atlantic and we are at the mercy of Mother Nature," she said.

"So if she decides to push that ice offshore and then back into the shores then we kind of have to just deal with it."