Slow going for snow clearing as blizzard conditions linger in N.L.

Slow going for snow clearing as blizzard conditions linger in N.L.

Drivers are being urged to stay off a handful of highways in central and southern Newfoundland, as plows struggle to keep up with the dump of snow hitting the area.

The Trans-Canada Highway between Gander, Grand Falls-Windsor and Hampden Junction had whiteout conditions throughout the day on Tuesday, according to the Department of Transportation.

In Gander, a town plow and an ambulance were both temporarily stuck in the snow. Portions of highway on the Burin Peninsula and the Burgeo Road were also blocked by snowdrifts.

Drivers were being advised to stay off the Witless Bay Line and Route 210 to Marystown Tuesday night because of poor visibility and drifting.

Schools and provincial government offices were closed in some areas of the island on Tuesday, as heavy snow and strong winds continued in many areas of the central region.

Finding spring

Spring is nowhere to be seen in Gander — but some boys insisted on practicing a favourite springtime tradition.

Daniel Freake and Dillion Penney ditched the shovels on Tuesday morning to play a little catch in the front driveway. Jason Freake sat on the sidelines, shovelling.

"The [MLB] season just started," remarked Daniel Freake — so the boys decided to follow along.

They said they're enjoying their five-day weekend, due to the three snow days, and said they haven't been doing a great job keeping up with their homework.

Jason Freake said he recently returned to Gander for an unwelcome surprise.

"We were in Florida for a week, came back. I've burnt more gas since last Thursday than I did all winter." 

More snow falling

The winter storm that started for much of Newfoundland on Monday has persisted in central, with the Gander area expected to get as much as 75 centimetres by the time the system moves on tonight.

Environment Canada still has blizzard warnings in effect from Clarenville through much of central Newfoundland, with other weather statements in effect for parts of the Avalon and south coasts of the island.

Weather warnings in Buchans and the interior, Green Bay-White Bay, western Newfoundland and the Northern Peninsula had ended by Tuesday morning.

Record snowfall in central

Blizzard warnings were in effect in Clarenville, the Bonavista Peninsula, Terra Nova, and Gander areas. All weather statements had ended for the Grand Falls-Windsor region by 1 p.m.

Heavy snow and wind gusts of up to 80 km/h should continue until later in the evening, when both will taper off. 

Gander and vicinity has been the hardest hit, with as much as 75 centimetres of snow expected in some areas by tonight. Environment Canada is advising against unnecessary travel until conditions improve. 

Rodney Barney at the Gander Weather Office said 56 centimetres of snow had fallen in Gander since Monday morning, and another 15-20 is expected before the end of Tuesday.

Combined with more than 60 centimetres that fell in the region last weekend, it makes for a new all-time record for the area.

"Right now we have over 200 centimetres of snow on the ground, the snow depth is 223 centimetres, and that's a brand new record, an all-time record," Barney told the Central Morning Show. "It beats a record of 174 from 2004, so this is indeed record-breaking."

Barney said some areas of Terra Nova were also hit hard, with as much as 50 centimetres in higher elevations.

For those who are eager for spring, there is some hope, however. Barney said the deep snow pack in central should be cut down in the coming days, and temperatures are expected to rise and combine with rain later in the week.

"We do have milder weather coming, so that's the bright news," he said.

Avalon Peninsula

St. John's and the Avalon did not experience stormy conditions overnight, but special weather statements are still in effect for the northern and northeastern portion of the peninsula.

Blowing snow advisories are in effect for the north, while St. John's and the northeast are under a special weather statement for strengthening northerly winds that could mean more sea ice for northern coasts.

Many arriving and departing flights at St. John's International Airport are cancelled for Tuesday.

Marine Atlantic ferries were also struggling Tuesday afternoon, with the Highlanders reported stuck in ice just off Low Point heading towards Port aux Basques.

The Blue Puttees, enroute to North Sydney, may have to try to create a path to free the Highlanders.

A passenger on the Bell Island ferry also reported Tuesday afternoon that the Flanders couldn't make it to Portugal Cove and had to return to Bell Island and that the Beaumont Hamel was tied up as well, because of ice.

Burin and South coast

Wind warnings have ended for the Burin Peninsula and Connaigre regions, but earlier conditions caused some schools to close for the morning in the Burin area.

Route 210 on the Burin Peninsula has been closed to traffic since Monday evening, as snow drifts as high as 20 feet have stopped a group of vehicles from going any further.

The Burgeo-Ramea region was under a blowing snow advisory, but Environment Canada lifted it by 9:30 a.m.

But Route 480 from the Trans-Canada Highway to Burgeo was still closed early Tuesday, as it was too stormy for travel.