Those hoping for a white Christmas got what they were looking for and then some. Judging from the forecast, the holiday season will remain white for quite some time.
“We have seen very cold weather basically everywhere on the island,” said David Neil, an Environment Canada meteorologist based at the Gander Weather Office. “Everywhere in the province, it’s been a white Christmas.”
The depth of accumulated snowfall in Newfoundland ranged from 50 centimetres at St. John’s International Airport to 85 centimetres at Deer Lake Airport. Snowfall depths ranged from 30 to 50 centimetres in Labrador as of Boxing Day.
A low-pressure system that made its way southeast of Newfoundland on Christmas Day dumped heavy snowfall on much of the island. Most areas received 20 centimetres of snow.
Neil said the heaviest snowfall recorded Dec. 25 by Environment Canada came in St. Mary’s at 32 centimetres. The Burin Peninsula and parts of the northeast coast experienced 15 to 20 centimetres of snowfall.
The director of public works for the City of St. John’s said snowclearing crews worked straight through Christmas Day and Boxing Day.
“We didn’t observe any of the holidays for street crews, so they didn’t get a break at all,” said Paul Mackey, who added there were also a number of water main breaks to deal with. “It has been a busy couple of weeks.”
He could only recall a couple of cases in recent years when full crews were required for Christmas.
“This year, it was an easy decision to make in the sense that with all the salt accumulated and the number of storms we’ve had in the last few days, we knew we had no choice but to work through (Christmas), because it was a challenge just to keep up. The type of snow we were getting was constant. You had to be out applying salt several times in the same day.”
A new system today will likely bring more snow to the Avalon Peninsula and some of the adjacent areas such as Clarenville and the Burin and Bonavista peninsulas. As of Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada was estimating 15 to 20 centimetres of snow for those regions. Temperatures will also remain cool.
“It doesn’t look like for the next few days anyway, with this next system, that we’re going to expect any significant snow melt,” said Neil.
Air travel on Friday may prove problematic. Both Air Canada and WestJet issued posts on Twitter Thursday evening advising travellers moving to and from St. John’s and Halifax on Dec. 27 to check their flight statuses.
Furthermore, Neil said meteorologists were watching another system due to arrive Monday to see how it will develop.
“This one has the potential to have a bit more rain associated with it over (the southern half of Newfoundland), but right before that, it also has the potential to dump another — I don’t want to get into specific numbers yet — but another significant snowfall.”
Thus, 2014 can expect to receive a snowy welcome.
“It will likely be a white New Year as well,” said Neil.
Mackey said snowclearing crews in St. John’s were focusing on widening work for city roads, with priority treatment going to main thoroughfares.
“You have to have that room to be able to push back, particularly on the major thoroughfares,” he said.