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St. John’s shuts down all its facilities as first winter storm blankets Avalon Peninsula

The City of St. John’s shut down all of its facilities Tuesday as a the first winter storm of the season blanketed the region.

By mid-afternoon, the storm turned out to be not as severe as forecast.

But the closures, including all recreation centres, the dump and city hall, had already happened. 

The towns of Conception Bay South and Paradise had already closed their offices, and St. John’s had already shut down garbage and recycling collection ahead of the storm’s arrival. 

All courts in St. John’s closed for the day, including the sheriffs’ office.

Eastern Health cancelled breastfeeding support groups and a mass vaccination clinic at Mount Pearl Square.

This follows the closure of its community walk-in clinic at 50 Mundy Pond Rd. for the day.

Boat lights are seen through the white haze of a winter storm.
St. John’s harbour is obscured by the storm. (Ted Dillon/CBC)

Schools from a collection of towns in and around St. John’s closed for the day, in anticipation of the messy winter weather.

The announcements from both English and French school districts came just after 6 a.m., before snow started falling on the northeast Avalon.

Just before 7 a.m., the closure was extended to schools in Conception Bay North and other regions of the Avalon Peninsula.

Memorial University campuses also closed for the day, but a spokesperson for the university said online courses are still going ahead unless individual instructors make a decision to cancel.

Independent schools, like St. Bon’s and King’s Bridge Montessori in St. John’s, also made a decision early Tuesday to close for the full day.

A blue snow plow pushing snow.
City crews were busy Tuesday keeping roads cleared from the first real snowfall of the year. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

College of the North Atlantic campuses in St. John’s, Seal Cove and Placentia are closed all day.

The entire Avalon Peninsula is expected to see between 15 and 20 centimetres of snow, with a northeasterly wind gusting to 60 km/h, and 80 km/h along parts the coast.

CBC meteorologist Ashley Brauweiler said the forecast has changed slightly from Monday, with a little less snow than initially predicted. 

“There’s a little bit of a shift in the forecast models overnight last night,” she said. “It looks like that area of low pressure is going to track a little bit further east.… The further east it moves, it’s going to pull that snow with it.”

While initials models suggested more than 25 centimetres, the forecast has now been downgraded to 15-20 centimetres for the eastern side of the Avalon, and 10-15 centimetres for the rest of the peninsula. The Burin Peninsula could see five to 10 centimetres, while the Bonavista Peninsula will see up to five centimetres. 

A day off

Some residents made the most of their day. 

Tom Fleming stuck to shovelling his driveway rather than breaking out his snowblower.

Fleming said he was happy to see Tuesday’s snowfall, after a season with very little so far. 

“I just thought I’d hit it in stages and get a little bit of exercise while I was at it,” he said.

A snowboarder wearing a red jacket glides down a hill of snow.
Brady Coombs rides his snowboard at Victoria Park in St. John’s. (Darryl Murphy/CBC)

Others ventured out to nearby dog parks and playgrounds. Some even got in some snowboarding and sledding.

“It’s just good to get some snow. Me and my friends love snowboarding,” said Brady Coombs while taking a breather atop Victoria Park in St. John’s.

“I’m just glad I can be here with my friends and get outside.”

Read more from CBC Newfoundland and Labrador

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