Snow Day–Nature Always Wins

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.


Picture borrowed from my colleague, Gerry Porter. Not exactly the official one.

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.


Driveway: 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…


About Maurice A. Barry

Coordinator: Teaching and Learning Commons, Faculty of Education, Memorial University of Newfoundland, Parent & Husband. eLearning consultant/coordinator. Program Development Specialist - eLearning (Department of Education; Retired). Writer: over 40 Math/Physics texts/webs. Developer & Manager of web content. Geek. Not into awards but loves comments.
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21 Responses to Snow Day–Nature Always Wins

  1. Dana Griffiths says:

    Great pics and commentary, Maurice. You have better snow clearing than us. We have not seen a plough since Friday night, and our road is impassible. Hopefully it will show up soon.

    • We are lucky to be right at the top of Kenmount. The Mount Pearl ploughs are especially careful with the two roads down the west side and, I suppose, give us a scrape along the way. I can send the boys out if you like — I’d help but I think I did my back in yesterday!

  2. Alice says:

    Canada, oh Canada. We love Canada and the Canadians! The hubby says if Canada would buy a nice island someplace warm and sunny, he’d apply for citizenship and move right away! It’s only your weather that keeps us away.

    • But it’s not always harsh. Every now and then.. Actually no, you’re right. The local historian, journalist and commentator Ray Guy once said, “Summers are short in Newfoundland. Last year it fell on a Wednesday.”

  3. strawberryquicksand says:

    I’m SO jealous! At the moment, here in Australia, we are experiencing 40 degree searing temperatures and bushfires all over the place. Where I live, it does snow in winter time, but we get excited if there is even enough to make the ground look a little white. I worked up at the ski fields one year and you would laugh at how pathetic our snow is. Aussies can ski on ice, did you know? lol.

  4. johnlmalone says:

    wow!~ looks like you guys get pounded; weather where I live never gets that extreme though we do sometimes have heatwaves; we were predicted one last week but thankfully it collapsed after the first day which is just as well because that made 111 degrees!

  5. Aaaaarh, snow…always loved the white crispiness of it on the first day before it turned into mush a day or so later. It does look beautiful! I heard it snowed in South Africa last year (puny!), hopefully we’ll get some snow again this year. Just a tiny bit. At least you guys look prepared. In all the years I was in the UK, it always seemed to catch all of us, including the weather people, off guard, cue chaos.

    • Storms like that do bring their share of chaos but they are a regular event in our winters. People know the drill: stock up on emergency supplies, stay home and wait it out. Dig out when it’s over. There are always a foolish few who venture out, though :>)

  6. we had one quite like it a couple of weeks before christmas. then it slushed itself up for a bit, and then refroze, and then there was more snow. so now the world is ice with snow on top! to be navigated Very Carefully. every day is an adventure, yes? 😛

    (also, thanks for your comment. 🙂 a nice surprise.)

  7. A recent dusting here on the NE coast (pa, usa), but nothing like this….Brrrr….the shop down the steps made me exhausted! 🙂

  8. wisejourney says:

    I couldn’t help but smile as I read through this and thought of my own rumblings about the freezing cold ( about 2 degrees daily) . . take a look at the measly snowfall last night on the pic on my last post !!

    • Everything’s relative! That amount of snow is not really that unusual here so we have built up an infrastructure that can handle it. The crews had the main roads back in shape as soon as the snow ended. Where you are I imagine the challenges are different so you have different worries & different solutions!

  9. Niki Scott says:

    Awesome writing there Maurice and a great sense of humour also…yes we are a tough breed!!

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