Snowfall in Gander shatters records

Andrew Robinson
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May 24 weekend marked by heavy precipitation

While the rest of Gander was busy shovelling after a May 24 winter storm, five local children took the opportunity to head to Square Pond for a day of wintry fun. From left, Jared Davidge, Liam Billard, Ethan Davidge, Evan Pye, and Zachary Davidge took the opportunity to build this snowman - apparently an Edmonton Oilers fan - at the nearby park. — Photo Submitted By Shawn Pye


When Penny Moss heard the weather forecast calling for snow in the Gander area over the Victoria Day weekend, she knew that could prove problematic for Jonathan's Pond Park, a 250-acre campground near the community.

SEE The Gander Beacon's snowfall slideshow

"We had a lot of cancellations," said Moss, one of the park's owners.

As disappointing as the cancellations may have been, Moss was pragmatic about the turn of events.

"It's not unusual to get snow on May 24. We're living in Newfoundland. It's expected."

In the end, it was a record-breaking weather event for the community. Over the course of a 36-hour period from Saturday morning until Sunday evening, 58 centimetres of accumulated snowfall was recorded at Gander International Airport.

The total snowfall was 69 centimetres, but meteorologist Wanda Rideout said that approximately 11 centimetres melted during the course of the snowstorm because the ground was still warm at first.

According to Environment Can-ada, Gander typically experiences 13 centimetres of snow on average for the entire month of May.

The previous record for the entire was 49 centimetres in May 1972.

"It obliterated every record we had," said Rideout, who works at Environment Canada's Gander Weather Office.

It was still snowing in Gander as of late Monday morning, but Rideout said it was only a light snowfall. The Environment Canada snowfall warning for the Gander area was lifted shortly before 6 p.m. Sunday.

The snow put a damper on long-weekend activities for many in the community, forcing residents to track down shovels they likely stored away anticipating they wouldn't be needed again for several months.

"Unfortunately, it was a very poor time for it to happen," said Rideout. "I guess that's par for the game for Newfoundland to get a storm on May 24 weekend."

At Jonathan's Pond Park, approximately one-third of the 180 campsites were occupied as of Saturday. Those who remained at the park stayed warm inside their trailers.

"The sites are all electrical with water, so they're quite comfortable," said Moss.

Environment Canada reported slippery driving conditions through much of central Newfoundland.

"The Gander Bay Road, it was snow covered and dangerous for driving," said Moss of the road leading to the park.

While she can recall other snowy May 24 weekends, Moss has never experienced one comparable to this.

"Not to this extent. We've had snow flurries, but nothing like this," she laughed.

Rideout said the snow created reduced visibility at times due to the fact it was so heavy, though winds were fortunately mild.

"There's a building across from us," said Rideout, "and there's periods where we can't even see the building. It's very heavy snow."

Today's forecast will likely aid the melting process. A high of 10 C is expected.

There were also reports of snow falling in Fogo, Terra Nova, Glovertown and Clarenville. Environment Canada did not have any official figures for how much snow accumulated in those areas.

The Avalon Peninsula avoided becoming a winter wonderland, but the slow-moving, low-pressure system did bring plenty of rain, drizzle and fog, resulting in less than ideal conditions for May 24 campers in that part of the province. Twitter: @TeleAndrew

Organizations: Jonathan's, Environment Canada, Gander International Airport Gander Weather Office

Geographic location: Gander Bay Road, Newfoundland, Pond Park Fogo Terra Nova Clarenville

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