Cleanup begins across the Avalon as winter weather system starts move out of Newfoundland

Snow plow crews are continuing to clean up roads across the Avalon Peninsula. St. The St. John's area has received over 50 centimetres of snow since Friday. (Katie Breen/CBC - image credit)
Snow plow crews are continuing to clean up roads across the Avalon Peninsula. St. The St. John's area has received over 50 centimetres of snow since Friday. (Katie Breen/CBC - image credit)
Katie Breen/CBC
Katie Breen/CBC

The cleanup is on across eastern Newfoundland on Sunday after a winter storm dumped more than 50 centimetres of snow on parts of the St. John's area.

Snow tapered off Sunday morning after being on and off since Friday. A weather station in St. John's east reported 52 centimetres on the ground as of 6:30 a.m. Sunday, while the weather station at St. John's International Airport reported 49 centimetres of snow.

The snow output more than doubled the total amount of snowfall seen all winter on the Avalon Peninsula — which had only reported 40 centimetres of snow this season.

The 49 centimetres reported at the airport is also the most recorded over a two-day period in St. John's since the infamous "Snowmageddon" blizzard of 2020. That storm dropped 78.2 centimetres over Jan. 17 and 18 of that year, according to The Weather Network.

Winds are expected to remain a factor into Sunday, with predicted northwesterly gusts of between 40 and 70 km/h. The winds could bring blowing snow over exposed areas.

"Those will stick around for a decent part of the day, but as we get into the afternoon hours they should start to diminish," Environment Canada meteorologist Brenden Sawchuk told CBC Radio Sunday.

Several power outages were reported Sunday morning due to severe weather conditions, with over 11,000 people losing power around 1 a.m. Electricity has since been restored in most areas.

Transportation delays are continuing to be seen with areas across the region reporting slick road conditions. Many of the flights departing St. John's have been cancelled Sunday morning, while flights scheduled to leave in the afternoon are either currently on time or delayed.

Cleaning in stride

With conditions improved, most people are putting away their storm chips to tackle shovelling Sunday.

Many shovellers, like Gabriella Ijaware, chose to head out multiple times over the course of Saturday to stay on top of things.

Katie Breen/CBC
Katie Breen/CBC

Ijaware says the warmer weather and lack of snow has been nice, but knew it was only a matter of time before the shovel needed to be pulled out.

"It's been a pretty good winter, so I was kind of expecting it to some level," she said.

Sawchuk said the snow that fell over the course of Saturday had high levels of water content as temperatures stayed at or near freezing, which could make for a challenging cleanup for some shovellers.

"Hopefully [people] took a bit of a dent into it yesterday before that second band came in," he said. "If you didn't, it's going to be pretty heavy. It was a very heavy snow with it hovering around freezing."

Communities cleaning up heavy snow

Municipal crews on the northeast Avalon are working to clean up that heavy snow, but the weight does make things more challenging

"It's gonna take some time to clean this up," St. John's Mayor Danny Breen said. "Our crews are out working and have been out working … since the snow started. And we'll just continue going."

The city also announced it is reopening its recreation facilities Sunday.

In Conception Bay South, Mayor Darrin Bent says crews are hard at work to get facilities back open and roads clear on Sunday.

"When you drive over it, it packs down just like cement. It's solid and it becomes icy," Bent said. "So that slowed efforts down to clear roads yesterday, it also played havoc with power lines."

The town opened a warming centre for residents on Saturday, Bent said.

Henrike Wilhelm/CBC
Henrike Wilhelm/CBC

Plow operator Brian Murphy was busy clearing the snow from parking lots in Mount Pearl on Sunday, starting his day at 3 a.m. to help workers get to downed telephone lines.

Murphy said he's just working the first part of what will be a long day of snow clearing.

"We've got another shift coming on and they'll take over at nine tonight until seven in the morning," he said.

"And, hopefully, we'll have it all done by then."

While Sunday is a busy day for Murphy, he said he's cosy in the cab of his loader.

"I got my Crocs on, so it's quite comfortable in here," he chuckled.

"You take rubbers and heavy coats along with you, but usually after the first hour, you can take all that off and, yeah, it's pretty comfortable. You've got radio and climate control. It's pretty good."

Rain on the way

The St. John's area is expected to see snow end by about noon on Sunday, then cloudy periods with a 40 per cent chance of flurries. That's expected to clear Sunday evening, but not before another two centimetres or so could fall.

If snow isn't your thing, however, Sawchuk says a small warm-up is expected later this week as a band of rain moves up the southern Avalon. Areas of the metro region could see between 10 and 20 millimetres of rain by Tuesday, but Sawchuk says it likely won't melt all of the snow that fell this weekend.

CBC N.L. Meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler says parts of the Connaigre Peninsula could see as much as 40 millimetres of rain as part of the system. She says it will be important to make sure people check their storm drains as part of the snow cleanup ahead of the system moving in.

Breen also recommends clearing the area around fire hydrants in the event of an emergency.

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