Stuck off, as we are, right out in the inhospitable Atlantic, we have learned–the hard way–to be prepared for anything. Sometimes, in fact, nature can be a downright sneaky, vindictive old hag. Fortunately for us we are used to her ways.
Like most places whose fortunes are tied so closely to to the environment we have learned to keep a close eye on the weather. Brian Walsh (Provincial Aerospace), Rodney Barney (Env. Canada) and Ryan Snoddon (CBC) are no strangers to anyone from Newfoundland Labrador. Besides, hey all use social media so it’s no problem finding out what they have to say.
It turns out that Brian Walsh had something to say on January 6th:
As the hours progressed and the models became more certain the word quickly got around. A storm was coming; a big one. Now, it’s not that we’re not used to bad weather–far from it. This one, though, was certainly going to be the first big one for the year.
The snowfall and wind predictions grew, and with it everyone’s apprehension. We were about to get pounded.
The picture shows the Island portion of the province. That H-shaped peninsula joined by the thin isthmus is called The Avalon; the location of one of the first European settlements in North America–the Colony of Avalon. While those souls later moved on to present-day Baltimore they have been replaced with much hardier ones; individuals to whom the crafting of Excalibur would have been little more effort than the sharpening of a saw or the hauling of a few lines…
Hardy yes, but stupid, no. Schools closed early on Thursday so the buses could get home safely. The College system closed at 2:30 and the University at 3:30. Same reason; an orderly procession. We all know the drill.
There was lots of time to get Chinese food/pizza etc. on the way home though. Shortly before leaving my office at MUN there was time to check the weather radar at Holyrood. It was not pretty.
Clearly the storm was close. At the time, just a few km south of St. John’s.
It hit suddenly. One second you were driving, no precipitation. The next second: a wall of snow.
By the time we all got home, pizza in hand, of course, the snow was fairly intense.
Pizza is so good on storm days.
Being indoors is so good on storm days.
Time for some reading and a bit of TV.
By 8 pm the snow had become more intense. It was piling up at around 3 cm/hr. The wind was at around 70 km/hr.
Blizzard conditions. Blowing snow messes up auto-focus.
Looking out the window at around 11pm you could see the heap of snow starting to grow in the cul-de-sac. The city is particularly nice to us here at the top of the hill. Rather than piling it all on our lawns they go counter-clockwise through the cul-de-sac and the plough sends the snow to the middle. It makes a great snow mountain for kids.
OK, adults too. :>)
Overnight the wind gusted past 100 km/hr. The windows shook. The roof shook.
We all shook.
The electricity went. Came back. Went again. Came back. Went once again. Came back.
After being back for an hour and only flickering a bit, breakfast was in order. Everything except toutins; You could not trust the electricity to be around long enough to make bread so it made so sense to bother with dough. Pity.
The big pity is that I do not own a snowblower.
The wind began to die down and the system started to veer westward. Bonavista, it seems, needed the snow more than we did.
No excuse. Shoveling to do.
The house is on a cul-de-sac; the highest spot in the tri-cities (St. John’s, Mount Pearl, Paradise) with houses. Guess which city is mine (hint: height). Great for summer–wicked sunsets. Bad for winter–more snow; freezing rain when everyone else is getting just rain. Fog. Oh, and fog. Not today, though. Just snow; lots of it. Wind, too; lots of it.
Things tend to drift a bit. See the fence just behind the shovel? There’s a gate in there so you can get in the backyard and at the basement.
It’s there somewhere.
Oh, there it is.
Fortunately my three sons (17, 19 and 21) were there too. Did not take all that long actually. The 51-year-old was a bit tired though.
Not done. Figured the neighbour could use a hand. The drifts were not as kind to him. Buried right in; both vehicles.
Hah–knew there was a car in there somewhere.
Sometimes your kids do things that drive you right round the bend; test your patience right to–and beyond–the breaking point. Sometimes, though, they do just the opposite. Mrs. F. is a capable, resilient Newfoundlander. Since her husband passed away, almost 10 years ago, she has been living on her own. On most days she shovels her own driveway. It’s the cleanest and neatest one on the whole street. It’s also the first to have bare pavement on the days the sun is able to do its job.
Make no mistake, through her courage, strength and determination she would have cleared that driveway on her own. You can see how totally buried in it was. She would do it! Fortunately she did not have to do it alone. The three lads lent a hand.
And Mrs. F shoveled every bit as much as any of them!
OK back to the house.
Garden and path: done.
Man! That snow was heavier than usual!
Thanks Ryan. Now, can I borrow your snowblower next time?
Whoops–one last bit. Yes, buried right in.
OK garden done. Look at those drifts–you could jump a snow machine right over the fence. Stop giving the boys those ideas–they’re bad enough as it is! Sorry.
Great. Wife is called into work. Payroll, it seems, does not run itself.
Great. Son #2 is called into work. The Lord knows why, I suppose. I don’t.
The plough crews here are WICKED! NO–you cannot have them. We just had a major blizzard blow through 2 hours ago. Never say, would you?
Arriving home, the snow had started again. Winter has a sense of humour. I’m not done with you yet.
See–essential services have not yet been restored. Now what to do?
Oh, yes, this is Canada!
And the fog? We’ll get the back-side (the warm side) of the system on Saturday. Guess what happens when warm, moist air meets snow…