The storm battering the eastern part of Newfoundland is one residents won’t soon forget.
A large section of the island — including the city of St. John’s, Avalon Peninsula, Clarenville and Bonavista Peninsula — is under a blizzard warning Saturday with a total snowfall of 35 to 75 centimetres expected.
An Environment Canada meteorologist said 51 cm of snow had been measured at St. John’s International Airport as of 6:30 p.m NT.
Wind gusts were forecast to be as high as 120 kilometres per hour — and up to 150 kilometres per hour along parts of the coast, according to Environment Canada.
With such high winds, there’s also a storm surge warning in effect for some areas, with maximum wave heights of nine to 12 metres expected.
Here’s a look at some of the sights and sounds of the storm:
The City of St. John’s declared a state of emergency at 11 a.m. Friday.
All businesses were told to close, though many buildings were already shuttered for the day. All vehicles except first responders were ordered off the road.
“Please return home until the order is lifted,” the city said in a tweet.
The declaration was the first in decades, according to the city’s mayor.
Mayor Danny Breen told the St. John’s Telegram that the last time the city declared a state of emergency — at least, to his knowledge — was during an ice storm in 1984.
“What’s different this time from the past (is) we’ve had bad storms and we’ve had bad wind storms, but we’ve never had both of them in one, really, at this level. And we also have 170 cm of snow on the ground,” he told the paper.
Based on the forecast, the City of St. John’s announced Thursday that its facilities, including the Robin Hood Bay landfill and City Hall, would be closing on Friday.
Officials urged residents to make sure they had medications, a battery-operated radio and any emergency kit at the ready.
“Be ready to cope on your own for at least 72 hours,” the city said in a message on its website.
The city’s public transportation service, Metrobus, had also pre-emptively announced it would not be operating Friday.
Cab operator Jiffy said in compliance with the state of emergency, it was pulling all of its vehicles off the roads.
“First time in company history,” Jiffy Cabs said in a tweet.
The nearby municipalities of Portugal Cove-St. Philips, Torbay, Mount Pearl, Conception Bay South and Paradise have declared their own states of emergency.
Highway conditions were so dangerous that most of the provincial government’s plow depots suspended operations in the eastern part of the province including the Avalon Peninsula, which is home to roughly 270,000 people.
The blizzard also brought St. John’s International Airport to a near standstill.
As of Friday afternoon, nearly all incoming and outgoing flights were cancelled, the airport’s website shows.
The Red Cross urged residents to take safety precautions.
“Check on your neighbours,” the agency said on Twitter. “Continue to take precautions and listen to and follow directions from local authorities. NEVER use a generator, BBQ, propane inside an enclosed area.”
As of late Friday afternoon, a few thousand households had lost electricity, according to Newfoundland Power.
Severe conditions and “impassable roads” are preventing its crews from accessing areas affected by outages, the utility said.
The company also warned residents to be prepared for wider outages.
Environment Canada says the storm could last another 24 hours, though conditions were expected to improve Saturday morning.
“To everyone in N.L. affected by the storm, please listen to your local authorities,” tweeted Prime Minister Justin Trudeau.
“We want you to stay safe, and keep the roads clear for emergency vehicles and snow clearing. (Public Safety Minister) Bill Blair is in contact with the province and is monitoring the situation. We’re ready to help if needed.”
Premier Dwight Ball thanked essential workers for their efforts to keep residents safe during the storm.