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Historic blizzard sets new all-time daily snowfall record — Newfoundland and Labrador, Canada


A powerful blizzard brought intense winds and record-breaking snowfall to parts of the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday and Saturday, January 17 and 18, 2020. "It’s snow and a hurricane, and snow and a hurricane shuts down a city," Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan​ said, referring to the scale of the blizzard and epic snowfall rates in the province's capital, St. John's. One person is missing.

The area of low pressure responsible for the snow and wind emerged from the northeastern United States early Thursday, January 16 and began to rapidly intensify as it moved over the Gulf of Maine, according to Environment Canada.

The system deepened into a powerful storm as it tracked southeast of the Avalon Peninsula on Friday, before departing into the North Atlantic early Saturday, January 18.

The storm battered the eastern half of the island with heavy snowfall, extremely high winds, and damaging coastal storm surge.

Epic snowfall rates of more than 10 cm (3.9 inches) per hour were falling in St. John's at times through Friday morning. By the lunch hour, over 30 cm (11.8 inches) was already on the ground.

In 24 hours ending 06:00 UTC on January 18 (02:30 NST), 76.2 cm (30 inches) of snow was recorded at St. John's International Airport, breaking the previous all-time daily snowfall record set on April 5, 1999, at 68.4 cm (27 inches).

St. John's mayor, Danny Breen, said that the city is still under a state of emergency as businesses remained closed, as well as the airport.

On Saturday, reports said the federal government had approved Newfoundland's request for assistance. "Whatever assistance we have available and we can mobilize on the ground will happen," said Natural Resources Minister Seamus O'Regan.

Moreover, the Canadian Armed Forces also announced its plans "to support the Province of Newfoundland and Labrador following an unprecedented winter storm."

O'Regan commented on the scale of the blizzard, saying, "It’s snow and a hurricane, and snow and a hurricane shuts down a city."

Image credit: NOAA/GOES-East. Acquired at 17:50 UTC on January 17, 2020

Officials warned people to avoid the roads, but lifted some restrictions on Sunday morning, January 19, allowing gas stations and pharmacies to open. As of Sunday evening, over 1 800 people were without power, according to Newfoundland Power.

People took to social media to describe the storm as "snowmageddon", showing photos and videos of whiteout conditions in the province.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corp (CBC) also confirmed a report of an avalanche in St. John's Battery neighborhood. In addition, a 26-year-old man has been reported missing after heading out during the blizzard.

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau assured his people that "help is on the way", saying that the ministers and premiere are working "to make sure people in Newfoundland & Labrador get the support they need." He added, "We’ll get through this together."

Featured image credit: @man_groove/Twitter


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