Gale force winds hit St. John's
Sep 11, 2012 / 6:49 am
Tropical storm Leslie pelted Newfoundland on Tuesday, unleashing hurricane-force winds on a large swath of the province's east coast and drenching rains in the west.
Officials with the Canadian Hurricane Centre in Halifax said the centre of the storm made landfall at around 8:30 a.m. local time in Fortune, N.L., following its anticipated track to the Burin Peninsula.
Meteorologist Bob Robichaud said the potent storm was buffeting areas around St. John's with winds that gusted up to 131 km/h, causing damage to roofs, roads and power lines and triggering widespread outages.
"There are very strong winds to the right hand side of the track," he said. "We've seen some fairly heavy, intense rainfall as the storm was approaching and one of the things we're looking closely at are the winds."
The St. John's airport recorded hurricane-force gusts of up to 131 km/h, while a buoy in Placentia Bay recorded waves exceeding 12 metres.
Robichaud said hurricane watches were still in effect for areas to the right of the track, largely on the Avalon Peninsula.
Power was knocked out throughout St. John's and communities along the southeastern coast of the Avalon, and all flights at the airport were cancelled.
Striking airport workers who briefly picketed outside braved powerful wind gusts that picked up a port-a-potty tied down by a rope.
"This is my first time taking strike action and I guess the weather just makes it a little more interesting," said Steve Piercey, a building maintenance worker originally from Fortune, N.L.
"We're used to weather like this. At least a couple of times a year we get big storms. This is par for the course, being a Newfoundlander. We're tough."
Piercey was working at the airport almost two years ago when hurricane Igor hit on Sept. 21, 2010.
Igor seemed much worse, he said.
Inside the airport, stranded passengers gazed up at electronic boards red with cancellations before the power cut out and they went black.
"On the Trans-Canada (Highway) it's windy. It's almost like the wind's going to push you off the road," said Christopher Cumby, who drove into St. John's from the Trinity Bay region. "It's not really bad rain-wise but the wind is really bad."
Cumby was trying to make his way back to Fort McMurray, Alta., for work, but his chartered flight was delayed.
"Nah," he said when asked if the weather scares him. "I might get to stay home an extra day."
The City of St. John's issued a notice early Tuesday that all municipal buildings, except City Hall, were closing for the morning due to extensive power outages. Schools and some health clinics in the area were also shut down.
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