Published on January 11, 2013
With power out at The Telegram office all day reporters conducted interviews under lantern light on cellphone with notepad and pen. Here reporter Ashley Firzpatrick works on a story for Saturday's paper. — Telegram photo
Published on January 11, 2013
A Paradise neighbourhood is blanketed in snow.— Photo by Glen Whiffen/The Telegram
Published on January 11, 2013
Newfoundland Power crews have been out restoring power in today's storm. This truck was spotted today in Paradise. — Photo by Glen Whiffen/The Telegram
UPDATE 5: Due to today's severe winter storm, no flights are operating at St. John's International Airport.
Marie Manning, a spokeswoman for the airport authority, said the airfield will be closed until noon Saturday.
Normally, the airport handles about 80 flights arriving and departing St. John's.
Manning said the airport does have a standby crew available for any emergency landings or medical emergencies that might arise.
UPDATE4:Across the city, people are getting power back in short bursts, but the Holyrood generating site is still offline, leaving many homes without power.
A Nalcor spokeswoman said that they’re on site now trying to fix the problem, but once things are sorted out at the generating facility, it will take several hours to bring the plant online and up to full capacity.
The fix was delayed because there was no crew on the scene. NL Hydro had to bring workers in from their depot at Whitbourne, which was delayed for several hours because of the poor road conditions.
Eastern Health’s emergency rooms were busy Friday, but as of late afternoon there were no major accidents or trauma events.
The ERs have been busy for a couple weeks due to influenza, said Katherine Chubbs, a vice president and chief nursing officer.
“They are pretty much at capacity,” she said of the situation Friday.
All non emergency services had been cancelled.
Chubbs commended the staff that had stayed on since past their Thursday night shifts because co-workers couldn’t get to work.
“They are to be commended and there are many of them,” she said.
“It is a challenging day.”
Staff were being given periodic rest breaks.
The hospitals got through any power outages affecting their areas on backup power.
Chubbs said ambulances were getting around fine and at the height of the storm had city plow escorts.
Gary Gosine, Mayor of Wabana on Bell Island, said they’ve were struggling with the same issues as everyone else.
“Our ferries aren’t running, with is probably a negative being a positive,” Gosine said. “Everyone is trying to weather out the storm.”
The biggest issue, he said, is that the snow is so heavy that it’s taking longer to clear, and they have to work more slowly. He said instead of sending their heavy equipment out to different areas to clear roads, they’re all working in the same area so that they can assist each other with the heavy snow.
“In a day or so, we’ll get through it all,” he said. “We’re trying to get through it as best we can”
UPDATE3: The IceCaps hockey game has been cancelled for tonight. The game, against the Toronto Marlies, will be played 2 p.m. Sunday.
UPDATE2: Most of the island has electricity at this point, Newfoundland Hydro said around noon Friday.
The West Coast, Central and the Northern Peninsula all have power, but plenty of homes and businesses on the Avalon Peninsula are still in the dark.
“Hydro has crews working on these issues and will provide information on the outages and possible restoration times as crews work to assess and repair the problems,” Newfoundland Hydro said in an emailed statement.
“Customers may continue to experience intermittent outages throughout the day related to the severe weather.”
Hydro is asking customers to unplug any appliances that don’t need to be on, and turn down the thermostat to ease the load on the grid. People are asked to refrain from using dishwashers and washing machines until the system gets back to normal.
A crew is makings its way to the Holyrood generating facility where a problem at the switchyard has plunged as many as 75,000 customers in the dark.
Newfoundland Power is using the electricity supply available to rotate power to different areas until the full supply comes back online.
When the issues are fixed, Karen O’Neil, spokeswoman for Nalcor, said it will take a couple of hours to bring power back to full capacity.
UPDATE: It looks like St. John’s may be dark for a while yet, as crews struggle to bring power back online.
Newfoundland Power is saying that their best is electricity could be out until 5 p.m.
Across the island, many people are without power.
By the time it’s all said and done, Environment Canada said that total snowfall could be 80 centimetres.
On the roads, the snow and the wind is causing whiteout conditions across the city.
City plows are still running, and Mayor Dennis O’Keefe said the major thoroughfares are relatively clear, but side streets are essentially snowed in.
O’Keefe said the storm is one of the worst ones he can remember.
“I’ve seen a lot of storms in my time,” he said. “For the wind and the combination of snow, this is one of the worst.”
Most of the city seems to be listening to the official advice to stay indoors, and hunker down.
Downtown St. John’s is effectively deserted, and only a few pedestrians or vehicles are out on the road.
Except for emergencies, all Eastern Health facilities are closed.
Many traffic lights across the city are out.
City residents are hunkering down, and many are in the dark as St. John’s gets hammered by a winter blizzard.
Mayor Dennis O’Keefe told people to stay indoors and “hunker down” until the worst of it passes.
O’Keefe said the city isn’t considering declaring a state of emergency right now; he said city plows and snow-clearing crews are still working, and there’s no point in calling in resources from the provincial or federal governments right now.
“At this point in time, I would say all levels of government have their hands full,” O’Keefe said.
Michelle Coughlan of Newfoundland Power said that as of 10 a.m. roughly 40-50 per cent of customers in St. John’s had electricity. The problem was the power supply coming from Newfoundland Hydro, Coughlan said, and as Hydro is able to make more electricity available, Newfoundland Power is doing its best to get the lights on in as many homes as possible.
Newfoundland hydro spokeswoman Merissa King said there are several issues affecting power outages on the island.
The main problem, particularly for the Northeast Avalon, is problems at the switchyard at the Holyrood generation plant. That problem started at 6:20 a.m. this morning.
The problem is there’s only one crew member on scene, therefore they must bring in a crew from the Whitbourne depot, but because of the severe road conditions, King said it is unsafe for them to travel right now.
They’ve had to work with provincial Fire and Emergency Services to get the roads cleared to bring the crew in.
At this point, King said there’s no sense of how long it will take to get the system back online.
“There’s not much we can do with one crew member,” King said. “Right now we’re playing the waiting game, and working with government to figure out a solution.”
She added that this sort of breakdown is “very unusual.”
Across the island, virtually every region has been having power outage issues, as the island gets slammed by the storm.
Lines in Bay D’Espoir have been knocked out by wind.
More than 40 centimetres of snow has fallen so far, and winds were reportedly sustained at more than 80 kilometres per hour.
O’Keefe’s advice to residents: stay home.
He said the city is working “steady belt” and as the storm subsides, they’ll be able to dig out.
“Enjoy the day and get ready for the clean up,” he said. “Don’t panic, don’t sweat it. The power will come back.”