Thousands without power across eastern Newfoundland as Hurricane Larry wreaks havoc

·5 min read
Hurricane Larry made landfall as a Category 1 storm, bringing with it rough seas and strong winds. (Submitted by Alick Tsui - image credit)
Hurricane Larry made landfall as a Category 1 storm, bringing with it rough seas and strong winds. (Submitted by Alick Tsui - image credit)

Hurricane Larry brought intense winds and heavy rainfall to eastern Newfoundland Friday night into Saturday morning.

Well over 10,000 customers are without power, mostly on the Avalon Peninsula, which includes St. John's, and social media posts appeared to show damage to structures including a concert tent and an elementary school.

Larry made landfall as a Category 1 hurricane. As of 2:46 a.m. NT, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h, with gusts surpassing 180km/h in exposed and elevated areas. Cape St. Mary's lighthouse reported a peak gust of 182 km/h on Friday evening.

Waves were reaching heights of 3.6 metres in Argentia, above what was anticipated, said CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler.

The latest tropical cyclone information statement from Environment Canada said a "notable" storm surge event occurred near the Burin Peninsula and Avalon Peninsula.

The U.S. and Canadian hurricane centres had slightly different landfall times and locations. The Canadian Hurricane Centre pegged it at 1:30 a.m. NT just west of Long Harbour, N.L., on the Avalon Peninsula.

St. John's International Airport recorded winds reaching sustained speeds of 96 km/h and recorded a gust of 145 km/h just after 2 a.m. NT.

As of 4 a.m., the storm is beginning to pull away from the island.

Social media users have reported flashes of lightning, but Brauweiler said the flashes are likely "power arcing" caused by power lines down during rainfall.

The Newfoundland Power website is reporting more than 10,000 customers are without power across eastern Newfoundland due to severe weather. Areas without power include St. John's, Mount Pearl, Whitbourne and the Burin Peninsula.

Jennifer Massey, who lives in downtown St. John's, said the wind has blown the shingles off her roof. She said her power was out, and she felt like she was in a "Victorian novel."

"It's a little bit eerie, a bit creepy," she told CBC News.

She said she hopes that the large, older trees in St. John's make it through the night undamaged, but the extent of the damage won't be known until Saturday morning.

Reports of damage start coming in

Just before 3 a.m., reports on social media showed that the performance tent near Quidi Vidi Lake in place for the Iceberg Alley concert festival had suffered extensive damage.

Iceberg Alley cancelled its planned April Wine concert on Friday evening due to the storm.

A photo shared on Twitter appears to show that a section of the roof of Mary Queen of Peace Elementary school has been damaged.

In some areas, about 30 millimetres of rain fell in a very short period of time.

Earlier Friday, meteorologist Rob Carroll said Larry's peak would be a few hours, starting around midnight to about 5 a.m.

Environment Canada has the entire Avalon Peninsula under a hurricane warning, but expects they will end "in a few hours."

On Thursday, government officials and the Canadian Red Cross insisted people prepare themselves and their homes for the imminent storm.

Karen Roache, who lives in St. John's near Quidi Vidi Lake, heeded the advice and was busy around her property Thursday afternoon, trimming branches, securing fences and chairs and making sure her kayak was tightly packed away on her patio.

"It's best to be prepared," Roache told CBC News.

"I'm concerned about the trees. We've got a lot of really tall maples in the back. So we're worried with the leaves on them they're going to be really top-heavy. I'm hoping there's not too much damage."

On Friday, the city of St. John's gave a breakdown of how it's preparing for the storm. Lynnann Winsor, deputy city manager for public works, told reporters city staff have been clearing culverts, catch-basins and waterways of debris while also preparing sandbags and barricades.

CBC
CBC

Winsor said extra city staff are on standby Friday night and throughout the weekend. The city is recommending residents be prepared to be on their own for 72 hours, according to Winsor. She said the city will address the public's needs, such as charging stations and shelters, Saturday morning after the storm.

Residents are reminded to call the city's access centre to report damage and hazards at 311 or 754-2489.

Chief Sherry Colford of the St. John's Regional Fire Department reminded the public to not call 911 in the event of a power outage or property damage.

"Use 911 for emergency services only. If you have an immediate threat to life or your property, such as a fire, certainly call 911," Colford said.

Sean LaCour, vice-president of customer operations for Newfoundland Power, said crews have been preparing for the possible damage from Hurricane Larry for the past few days. He said high wind, rather than rain, is most likely to cause major damage.

"The potential for damage caused by trees and limbs coming in contact with the power lines is our biggest concern," he said.

He advised people to stay in their homes and report any power outages. He said trees and power lines may be down on Saturday, and debris will likely continue flying around in the wind for a period of time after the worst of the storm.

He said areas with higher elevations or bigger trees could see more extensive damage. Power crews will be assessing the damage Saturday morning.

"We'll have a better handle on how much damage, how long people are going to be off by [Saturday] afternoon."

On Saturday, Newfoundland Power will have its full workforce out repairing damage, he said, advising people to remain in their homes so crews can easily access damaged areas.

Krissy Holmes of The St. John's Morning Show will provide live updates on CBC Radio, while CBC N.L. meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler will provide the latest on Larry's path. You can also get up-to-date information on cbc.ca/nl.

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting