Powerful winds wrap N.L.

Ashley
Ashley Fitzpatrick
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Sheeting covering scaffolding at the Confederation Building blows around in the wind following Thursday and Friday's windstorm. — Photo by Keith Gosse/The Telegram

Thousands of people in all parts of the island portion of the province were being affected by power outages Friday, following a windstorm that struck the province Thursday night.

Some of the power restoration work was expected to run into Saturday morning, according to Newfoundland Power.

"This particular storm is different than most of the recent ones in that it is islandwide," Newfoundland Power's Bob Pike told The Telegram.

His comment was supported by the findings of Environment Canada, which released unofficial recordings of top wind speeds as of Friday morning, showing high wind gusts all over the island.

The top speed went to Englee, on the Northern Peninsula, at 159 km/h. Close behind was a reading from Sagona Island, in Fortune Bay (on the South coast) at 148 km/h.

Head West to Corner Brook to find gusts up to 106 km/h, matching speeds recorded at St. John's International Airport. Readings out of Gander topped out around the 100 km/h mark.

Pike said that, due to the large amount of rain in recent weeks, trees were particularly susceptible to toppling in high wind gusts.

In addition to trees coming into the lines, lines began slapping together in the high winds, causing shortages. Insulators broke clear on some structures, crossarms on power poles were broken and "we've had several poles break across the island," he said.

Many of the affected lines run through backwoods areas, he said. and repair efforts were hindered by continued poor weather on parts of the island Friday.

Cars, alarms and minor injuries

Meanwhile, mid-storm, cars were forced off the road by high winds and by highway closures directly related to problems caused by the high winds.

A tractor-trailer loaded with fireworks was blown over on the Trans-Canada Highway west of Appleton. It closed the highway for hours as the trailer was unloaded, moved to the side of the road and set right.

A second tractor-trailer was blown over five to 10 kilometres east of the Lewisporte Junction. As of 5:30 a.m. Friday, the road was impassable as, RCMP stated, the truck lay across the eastbound and westbound lanes of the TCH.

In towns, aside from debris, police reported having to respond to false security alarms being caused at various businesses as a result of the wind.

Nine false alarms were counted by the RCMP in the Gander-Lewisporte district in a period of less than four hours overnight Friday. Winds were reportedly exceeding 100 km/h in that area as of 6:30 p.m. Thursday.

Part of the roof of the Mamateek Inn in Corner Brook was taken off by wind.

The wind was also strong enough to toss around people.

In St. John's, the RNC reported a 50-year-old man was crossing O'Leary Avenue from the mall parking lot, about 8 p.m., when gusting wind picked him up and threw him into an oncoming vehicle.

He received what have been described as minor injuries. Police say the incident is still under investigation.

The Department of Transportation shut down roads within Fox Island River, on Port au Port Bay on the west coast of the island, "due to high winds."

Provincial ferries remained tied up throughout the storm. Even as service to and from Bell Island was re-started Friday, it was noted damage had apparently been caused to the ferry ramp.

Marine Atlantic issued a weather delay advisory when the storm got underway. However, the vessel Blue Puttees docked successfully in Port aux Basques at 6:10 a.m. Friday and gulf traffic was on time Friday.

afitzpatrick@thetelegram.com

 

Organizations: Newfoundland Power, The Telegram, Environment Canada International Airport RCMP Mamateek Inn RNC Department of Transportation Marine Atlantic

Geographic location: Corner Brook, St. John's, Gander Sagona Island Fortune Bay Lewisporte Appleton O'Leary Avenue Fox Island River Port au Port Bay Bell Island Port aux Basques

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