'Bomb' blizzard buried cars and homes with more than four metres of snow in parts of Canada
Jan. 20, 2020
A historic blizzard that slammed Canada's easternmost province has left snow-buried neighbourhoods, a slew of power outages and shattered records in its wake.
The Canadian city of St John's superseded its record for the most snow in 24 hours, recording 30 inches, as the storm hit Newfoundland and Labrador on Friday.
A state of emergency continued in the provincial capital and elsewhere through Sunday local time, as most businesses were ordered closed and few beyond emergency vehicles were allowed on the roads.
Snow drifts rose 12 to 15 feet (3.7 to 4.6 metres) high on some highways, officials said. The Canadian armed forces were called in to help clear the deluge.
"Newfoundlanders are going to be talking about this for a very, very long time," said Ashley Brauweiler, a meteorologist for the Canadian Broadcasting Corp in the province.
Her station lost power during the storm and had to stop broadcasting. At one point, people there couldn't even open the door because of the snow that had piled up on the other side.
St John's International Airport measured 30 inches of snowfall Friday, its snowiest single day in records dating to 1942. The previous record of 26.9 inches was set in April 1999. Totals in other areas were higher, and wind speeds of 100 mph or greater made it difficult to measure the snow amid blowing and drifting
Hurricane-force winds piled snow against homes, and residents woke Saturday to drifts that completely covered their cars and blocked first floors.
The storm was a meteorological "bomb," having undergone a process of rapid intensification known as bombogenesis.
While the storm was relatively short in duration, it was unusually ferocious even for an area used to powerful ocean storms during the winter - "as severe a blizzard as St. John's metro has ever seen," tweeted one meteorologist, the Weather Network's Chris Scott, who placed the tempest "in an elite class with some of the most infamous nor'easter/Atlantic seaboard storms ever."
Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said his thoughts were with those in Newfoundland "dealing with the aftermath."
"Stay safe out there and listen to your local authorities," Trudeau tweeted. "We're here for you and stand ready to help in any way we can."
Brauweiler, the Canadian Broadcasting Corp. meteorologist who lives in St. John's, said she came home to no snow in her front yard, thanks to the wind. But the back door was a different story - there, it had piled as high as her head. Houses across the street had snow up to their second level.
She can't shovel, she said: Her neighborhood has no sidewalks, so "there's physically no place to put the snow."
Brauweiler is a forecasting veteran, but "when you actually experience it, it's something completely different," she said.
And this was no ordinary storm.
"It is certainly something that I'll be talking about for the rest of my career," she said. "I've never seen anything like it."
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