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Newfoundland reeling after blizzard buries capital

UPDATED: Sat., Jan. 18, 2020

A snowplow clears the road in St. John’s St. John’s Newfoundland on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. The state of emergency ordered by the City of St. John’s is still in place, leaving businesses closed and vehicles off the roads in the aftermath of the major winter storm that hit the Newfoundland and Labrador capital. (Andrew Vaughan / Associated Press)
A snowplow clears the road in St. John’s St. John’s Newfoundland on Saturday, Jan. 18, 2020. The state of emergency ordered by the City of St. John’s is still in place, leaving businesses closed and vehicles off the roads in the aftermath of the major winter storm that hit the Newfoundland and Labrador capital. (Andrew Vaughan / Associated Press)
Associated Press

ST. JOHN’S, Newfoundland – Canada’s weather agency ended a blizzard warning for the St. John’s, Newfoundland, area on Saturday, but a rare state of emergency and storm surge warning remained in effect following a monster storm that buried Newfoundland’s capital city.

The intense snowfall that brought St. John’s and many other communities to a standstill on Friday slowed overnight, according to Environment Canada.

At the peak of the storm, which some described as being like a blizzard in a hurricane, even snowplows were pulled off roads due to near zero visibility conditions. However, plowing operations in St. John’s resumed overnight.

But with more than 2.3 feet of new snow on the ground in some areas, and 90-mph winds piling up drifts, roads were likely to remain treacherous.

Blizzards are common in Newfoundland but this one stood out with strong winds, the amount of snow that fell and the fact that there was already a lot of snow on the ground.

There have also been widespread power outages. Overnight Newfoundland Power said its crews were working to restore electricity for about 21,000 customers.

The city of St. John’s, as well as several nearby communities, declared states of emergency late Friday morning, ordering businesses closed and all non-emergency vehicles off the roads.

A statement issued by the city of St. John’s on Saturday morning said the state of emergency “will remain in effect until further notice.”

Digging out from the monster storm is likely to take several days, if not longer, and Prime Minister Justin Trudeau has tweeted that the federal government stands ready to help Newfoundland and Labrador “if needed.”

St. John’s Mayor Danny Breen thanked the federal government for receiving short-term permission to dump snow in St. John’s harbor.

Blizzard and storm surge warnings remain in effect in other areas of eastern Newfoundland and Labrador.

Air traffic in the region was shut down Friday, and all but a handful of flights at St. John’s International Airport remained cancelled Saturday morning.

Municipal officials had advised residents of St. John’s to prepare emergency kits with enough supplies to last for at least 72 hours.

Authorities have also been urging residents to keep in contact with elderly neighbors and to continuously stay in touch with people if traveling in case of an emergency.

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