Environment Canada says 76.2 cm of snow was measured at St. John’s International Airport on Friday — the most for any day since records started being kept in 1942.
“This is incredible. Even by Newfoundland snow standards,” Global News Chief Meteorologist Anthony Farnell tweeted.
All flights in and out of St. John’s were cancelled, and the airport remains closed until at least Sunday night.
Businesses in the capital city, as well as other municipalities in the Northeast Avalon Peninsula, were ordered to stay closed for a second day.
In St. John’s, all vehicles except first responders remained banned from the streets.
Premier Dwight Ball announced Saturday afternoon that the province has requested assistance from the federal government — including the Canadian Armed Forces — to handle the aftermath of the blizzard.
That request was granted. Public Safety Minister Bill Blair said he is in touch with the premier, as well as Liberal MP Seamus O’Regan and Defence Minister Harjit Sajjan, to determine “how best we can help.”
Given the high levels of snowfall — Ball said there are some cases of snow drifts as high as 15 feet — the extent of the damage is not known at this point.
The kind of support the province will be seeking is still being determined, Ball said, but it could include help for those stranded in their homes and relief for workers.
“There will be a number of things that they could be engaged in,” he said in an interview with Global News. “They could be just supporting individual residents within our province.”
Though Newfoundland and Labrador is no stranger to heavy snowfall and high winds, Ball described it as a very “different” weather event.
“It’s been historic,” he said.
On Saturday, people started digging out their homes and vehicles and surveying the winter wonderland.
As shown in images posted to social media, some residents opened their doors to find walls of snow.
One man said that the snow against his door was so heavy his doorbell rang on Friday night.
In St. John’s, a few people were seen riding snowmobiles and ATVs on city streets.
And a few even took advantage of the steep downtown streets for skiing and snowboarding.
In a jaw-dropping photo, plows were shown cutting through a sea of snow on Pitts Memorial Drive, a highway in the St. John’s area that appeared unrecognizable.
The provincial government said snow drifts of 12 and 15 feet high have been reported on some highways.
Many lost electricity due to winds that exceeded 120 km/h in St. John’s.
The premier said 21,000 people were without power as of early Saturday morning.
Newfoundland Power said in some cases its crews were out on foot to assess the damage caused by the storm.
Authorities urged the public to check on their neighbours, take safety precautions to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning and be careful not to overexert themselves while shovelling.
On Friday night, the Red Cross arranged hotel stays for four families in the Battery neighbourhood at the base of Signal Hill in downtown St. John’s.
They were evacuated after snow rushed down the cliff and into a home, and there were fears it could happen again.
“People were in the living room, and the snow came through the window,” Platoon Chief Dean Foley of the St. John’s Regional Fire Department told the Canadian Press.
Nobody was injured but firefighters had to walk through chest-high snow to reach the scene, Foley said.
Fire officials recommended the evacuation of 10 homes in the area.
While residents of four homes agreed to leave, those in the other six decided to stay put, according to Foley.
–With files from Nick Logan, Global News, and The Canadian Press