Storm watch upgraded to blizzard warning

Residents of eastern and southern Newfoundland will batten down the hatches Thursday with a blizzard expected to wallop the region.

Environment Canada says the storm could dump up to 40 centimetres of snow on the Avalon and Burin peninsulas.

The blizzard warning replaces an earlier winter storm watch for St. John's, as well as the northern, southeast and southwest areas of the Avalon Peninsula. Clarenville, as well as the Bonavista and Burin peninsulas and Connaigre area are also included in the newest forecast update, issued at 4 p.m. Wednesday.

Snow should begin over southernmost areas of the Avalon Peninsula around noon on Thursday and spread north into the St. John's region during the afternoon, reaching the Bonavista Peninsula later Thursday.

Forecasters said the snow will be heavy at times, with amounts of 30 to 40 centimetres expected over the Burin and Avalon peninsulas by Friday morning. Lesser amounts are expected for the Clarenville and Bonavista areas.

Winds are expected to strengthen from the northeast, gusting to 100 km/h or higher overnight Thursday. The combination of snow and wind is expected to produce blizzard conditions with near zero visibility.

Snow is also forecast to develop Thursday morning in the Burgeo area, with 10 to 15 centimetres expected by Thursday evening. Winds should strengthen during the day resulting in blowing snow, but the strongest winds are not expected to arrive until after the snow ends.

Environment Canada said the snow is forecast to taper off over southern areas by early Friday, but will likely persist into the afternoon across the northern Avalon and Bonavista peninsulas, giving additional snow accumulation. Some areas may eventually see a changeover to rain later on Friday.

Winds will remain strong however, with gusts potentially reaching 120 km/h over exposed areas.

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