Environment Canada upgrades N.L. weather watches to blizzard warnings

The weather system due to hit Newfoundland on Monday just got worse.

Environment Canada has issued blizzard warnings for almost the entire island, upgrading the special weather statements about significant snowfall and high winds that had been in effect for most of Newfoundland.

In the St. John's area, light snow is forecast to begin Sunday evening, getting heavy at times overnight and Monday morning. Environment Canada forecasts the snow will turn to ice pellets or freezing rain by Monday afternoon, before becoming snow again Monday evening, tapering to flurries on Tuesday. Between 15 and 30 centimetres are expected to fall by Monday morning.

The area is also supposed to get strong northeasterly winds, reducing visibility with blowing snow overnight Sunday into Monday morning. Wind gusts are expected to reach 80 km/h in most areas and 100 km/h along the coast.

Conditions will be much the same throughout most of the island, with varying amounts of snowfall expected. Terra Nova, Gander and the Green Bay-White Bay areas should see 20 to 35 centimetres by Monday evening.

Environment Canada says the northeasterly winds will keep the pack ice along northeast-facing coastlines and may cause ice pressure to build up as winds increase.

On Saturday, the MV Beaumont Hamel crossing from Bell Island to Portugal Cove got stuck in ice. A Canadian Coast Guard icebreaker cleared a path for the ferry; and was using an icebreaker to make its crossings Sunday morning.