A state of emergency was declared for St. John’s today due to a giant storm system that is moving through eastern Newfoundland.
Northeast Avalon can expect as much as 75 cm of snow throughout the day today.
The blizzard passing through the area is forcing the city of St. John’s to brace themselves for strong winds and heavy snowfall.
Danny Breen, the Mayor of St. John’s declared that the city is in a state of emergency around 11 a.m. NT. During the state of emergency, all businesses have been ordered to close and all vehicles outside of emergency crew vehicles have been told to stay off the roads.
Breen told CBC News, “Anybody that’s out right now, you need to return to your home and you need to stay there until we lift the state of emergency.”
Over 75 centimetres of snow has been forecast for the Avalon Peninsula by tonight and winds up to 150 km/h are expected in coastal areas.
Even snowplows have been pulled from highways by Newfoundland and Labrador’s government.
The conditions in the area started to get much worse during the morning as visibility worsened.
Breen noted, “When you get the high winds like that, and the snow, there’s just so many issues at play that you really do need to just shut it down, get everything cleaned up.”
Breen also mentioned that this is the harshest storm he can recall in decades. He said he does not know when he will be able to lift the order.
Snow was falling at approximately 10 centimetres and hour in St. John’s this morning and could continue at 5 centimetres an hour through the rest of the day.
Environment Canada Meteorologist, Mike Vandenberg said, “This is gonna be a bad storm,” he added, “Visibility is expected to stay pretty bad with a lot of snow blowing around for the next 36 hours or so.”
Many schools have been closed by the Newfoundland and Labrador English School District. Metrobus also called off its transportation services and the St. John’s International Airport has cancelled most flights.
Vanderberg noted that recovering from the storm could take days as the storm will likely continue through to Saturday afternoon.
There is also a possibility of rising water levels and flooding near the region’s coast.
“One of our biggest concerns is that motorists may slow down due to poor visibility, get stuck in the snow, that sort of thing, and then a second motorist comes along and makes contact with the first — collides with the first,” said RCMP Const. Dave Bourden.
St. John’s residents are asked to stay indoors until further notice.