January 18, 2020

Newfoundland Just Endured A Historic Blizzard That Buried People In Their Homes

Residents of eastern Newfoundland spent Saturday conducting an archaeological dig in a valiant attempt to remember what life was like before Friday's historic blizzard. The impressive snowstorm dropped more than two feet of snow on parts of the island in Atlantic Canada, an insult made even worse by 75+ MPH sustained winds that drifted the snow so high that many folks had to tunnel out of their homes.

Friday's snowstorm is widely considered to be one of eastern Newfoundland's worst blizzards in living memory by folks who were in the thick of it. St. John's, Newfoundland, the easternmost major city in both Canada and North America, recorded 30" of snow during the storm and reported blizzard conditions for about 17 consecutive hours between 8:30 AM on Friday and 1:30 AM on Saturday.

The airport's weather station saw a minimum air pressure of 970.5 mb on Friday evening as the center of the winter storm passed just offshore. Some communities around St. John's saw even greater snowfall totals, with Mt. Pearl—the name of a city, not a mountain—reporting just over three feet of snow by the end of the storm.

The pure volume of snow, combined with the immense size of the drifts, quickly transformed this storm from a quirky novelty into a serious situation. The most populated area of the province is at a standstill at the moment while crews attempt to clear away the steep drifts of snow.

Tropical Tidbits

This was the perfect setup for an epic blizzard in Newfoundland. A strong jet stream dipped over eastern Canada at just the right angle to allow a sprawling low-pressure system to rapidly strengthen off the island's southern coast. The storm then underwent bombogenesis, or the process of strengthening 24+ mb over the course of 24 hours...hence all the "bomb snowstorm" and "bomb cyclone" headlines you've seen this weekend. The northwestern side of the storm rode directly over the Avalon Peninsula, exposing St. John's and its suburbs to the storm's heaviest snow and strongest winds.

The St. John's area could see another 5-8 inches of snow on Sunday as another winter storm moves across the region. Temperatures could briefly jump above freezing on Monday before dropping back below freezing through next weekend.

[Top Image: NOAA]

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I graduated from the University of South Alabama in 2014 with a degree in political science and a minor in meteorology. I contribute to The Weather Network as a digital writer, and I've written for Forbes, the Washington Post's Capital Weather Gang, Popular Science, Mental Floss, and Gawker's The Vane. My latest book, The Skies Above, is now available. My first book, The Extreme Weather Survival Manual, arrived in October 2015.