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Eastern Newfoundland, walloped by first big snow storm of the winter 

A car drives downs a snow-covered street in St. John's on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019.
A car drives downs a snow-covered street in St. John's on Wednesday, Jan. 2, 2019. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Holly McKenzie-Sutter

It was a slow start to the work week in St. John’s, N.L., as residents took up the task of shovelling out after a storm dumped 40 centimetres of snow on the city overnight and into Monday morning.

Eastern Newfoundland was walloped by 2020’s first major winter storm Sunday night, with Environment Canada storm warnings and special weather statements issued for St. John’s and areas north along the coast up to Gander.

Snow and strong wind gusts continued into early afternoon in the provincial capital, affecting visibility and driving conditions.

“Much of the eastern half of the island got a pretty snowy wakeup this morning, that’s for sure,” Environment Canada meteorologist David Neil said from Gander.

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St. John’s was the high mark for snowfall, Neil said, with the city’s airport recording 40 centimetres of snowfall since Sunday afternoon.

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Gander recorded 19 centimetres of snow by Monday morning, with an estimated 28 centimetres at Terra Nova National Park and about 30 centimetres recorded in Bonavista, Neil said.

By the afternoon, signs of life returned to the capital city’s narrow downtown streets. Residents shovelled around cars buried under snow drifts and pedestrians shared the roads with slow-moving snow plows to avoid trudging along snow-covered sidewalks.

Strong northeasterly winds, as high as 106 kilometres per hour in some parts of the island, accompanied the snowfall, building the especially high snow drifts that greeted residents when they opened their doors.

“A lot of folks I’m sure woke up this morning with some pretty good snow drifts, either in their driveways or on the sidewalks,” said Neil.

Global News Morning Forecast: January 6
Global News Morning Forecast: January 6

St. John’s resident Rob Collins said he’d been outside for almost three hours clearing space around his home and a neighbour’s in the colourful Georgestown neighbourhood.

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“I love the snow and stuff like that, but I don’t like shovelling it so much,” Collins said, pausing with his shovel beside a sizable snow pile.

The decades-long resident said it’s a chilly task, but one he’s come to expect during winters in the eastern city.

“We all know where we live. We’re all Canadians,” he said.

READ MORE: More snow to hit Nova Scotia during midweek storm: Environment Canada

With treacherous road conditions continuing through the morning, public offices and schools across the region delayed opening or shut down for the day as people began digging themselves out.

The English School District announced closures across the St. John’s metro area for the day. Memorial University of Newfoundland and the College of the North Atlantic also announced campus closures due to the weather.

Newfoundland Power dealt with a number of outages Monday, with thousands of customers affected in the St. John’s area and in the vicinities of Mount Pearl, North East Avalon, Southern Shore, Burin Peninsula, Conception Bay North and Cape Shore.

Air travellers and those planning to use ferries were advised check the status of their flights and sailings before heading out.

As the snowfall tapered off Monday, Neil said relief may be temporary before the next storm is expected to hit the island Wednesday evening, this time bringing snowy conditions further west.

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“We’ll get a little breather, but for the most part we’ll see another storm coming in short order,” he said.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Jan. 6, 2020.