Hurricane Larry wallops eastern Newfoundland with strong winds, storm surge

Nfld. & Labrador·Updated

Hurricane Larry made landfall on eastern Newfoundland overnight as a Category 1 storm, knocking out power throughout St. John's and the surrounding area in a short, sharp wallop of heavy winds, torrential rains and an unexpectedly high storm surge.

The Iceberg Alley performance tent near Quidi Vidi Lake in St. John's was extensively damaged in the early morning hours of Saturday by Hurricane Larry. ( Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Hurricane Larry hit eastern Newfoundland overnight as a Category 1 storm, knocking out power throughout St. John's and the surrounding area in a short, sharp wallop of heavy winds, torrential rains and an unexpectedly high storm surge.

Hurricane warnings that had been in place for the Avalon Peninsula were ended at about 5 a.m. NT, though wind warnings were still in effect for some areas, including the capital.

As of 3:14 NT, the storm had maximum sustained winds of 120 km/h, with gusts surpassing 180km/h in exposed and elevated areas. Cape St. Mary's lighthouse reported a peak gust of 182 km/h on Friday evening.

"That is a huge, huge wind gust," CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon said Saturday morning.

About 60,000 customers lost their power in the midst of the storm. By noon, Newfoundland Power had restored electricity to nearly 31,000 customers.

The company will have its full workforce out repairing damage on Saturday, and people are advised to remain in their homes so crews can easily access damaged areas.

Mary Queen of Peace Elementary School on Torbay Road in St. John's suffered significant damage to its roof Saturday morning.(John Gushue/CBC)

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary and the City of St. John's are asking the public to remain off the roads to minimize any risk to public safety due to downed power lines and debris.

Metrobus Transit is following the RNC's advisory, saying buses will not begin running until the advisory is lifted. Metrobus said it will provide an update when service begins.

Further updates related to Hurricane Larry will be announced as required.

Winds have gradually tapered off over the past few hours, but Snoddon said winds will continue to gust between 70 and 80 km/h for the morning across the east and northeast portion of the island before easing throughout the afternoon to gusts of 60 to 70 km/h with a mix of sun and cloud.

Winds will continue to ease Saturday evening and overnight, Snoddon said, adding the forecast looks good for Sunday.

Tackling major road hazards

"The priority for city crews at this time is to address streets and major road hazards," the City of St. John's said in a statement.

Mayor Danny Breen, who addressed reporters at 11 a.m. Saturday, said the hurricane caused a "significant amount" of damage around the city. City crews have been addressing priority areas, including damaged traffic signals and roads that have been reduced to one lane due to debris, he said.

"We're asking residents to avoid travel unless for essential reasons," Breen said. "Please give our staff some room so we can get the work completed to get us back to having a safe passage throughout the city."

Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Transportation and Infrastructure is asking motorists to avoid the area of Route 90 near St. Vincent's. A stretch of that road was damaged overnight and remains washed out Saturday morning.

A large portion of bricks on an exterior wall at the Torbay Estates apartment building in St. John's fell to the ground after being battered by strong winds. (Danny Arsenault/CBC)

Transportation Minister Elvis Loveless told CBC News that he has been in contact with Premier Andrew Furey throughout Saturday, getting updates from various areas of the province.

Loveless said the department has been monitoring culverts and bridges, and assessing closed roads.

"Our engineers and crews began their shift work at 5 a.m. this morning. They're on it, and I'm getting updates as we go by," he said.

Loveless said crews are currently addressing Route 90, an area near North Harbour, Salmonier Line and keeping a close eye on provincial highways, but he could not give a timeline for when repairs will be completed.

"We're going to be working diligently over the next several days, but from the reports that I have to date, it's nothing that can't be tackled within a week," Loveless said.

Placentia-St. Mary's MHA Sherry Gambin-Walsh, who lives in North Harbour, said the wind from the storm was about the strongest she's ever experienced.

"The pavement is completely removed from a portion of the road. The ocean comes up to the side of the road, so we're a little bit concerned about the underneath there," she said.

"In the past we've had heavier rain … but this is the highest sea damage I've seen. I'm living in North Harbour now 27 years."

Argentia waters 1.5 metres higher than normal

The latest tropical cyclone information statement from Environment Canada said a "notable" storm surge event occurred near the Burin Peninsula and Avalon Peninsula.

The tide gauge at Argentia showed a peak water level about 150 centimetres higher than normal, the update said.

Hurricane Larry's wind gusts topped 182 km/h in Cape St. Mary's. (Ryan Snoddon/CBC)

In Marystown, Fire Chief Justin Bolt told CBC News that two homes were evacuated for a short period of time during the height of the storm due to concerns over the storm surge and high tides. Bolt said everyone is safe.

Rain was short-lived but intense, with about 30 millimetres falling "in a very short period of time."

The statement said Larry made landfall at 1:30 a.m. NT just west of Long Harbour, N.L., on the Avalon Peninsula.

Visible damage

Just before 3 a.m., reports on social media showed that the performance tent near Quidi Vidi Lake in place for the Iceberg Alley concert festival had suffered extensive damage.

Iceberg Alley cancelled its planned April Wine concert on Friday evening due to the storm.

Shortly before noon, the group said Saturday night's performance of Alan Doyle, Matt Mays and The Fine Lads has been cancelled.

"Refund information will be available in the coming days," the group said in a statement. "Crews are currently accessing the extent of damages. The future of additional performance is to be determined."

Hurricane Larry brought a storm surge, heavy rain and high winds to the Avalon Peninsula overnight.(Jeremy Eaton/CBC)

Nearby, at Torbay Estates apartment building in St. John's, the hurricane caused significant damage to the building's exterior.

The building's superintendent, John Brown, told CBC News that bricks fell off of an exterior wall at about 1:30 a.m., smashing on top of two vehicles and landing in a pile.

"We had wind storms in the past, and it's usually siding [damage], never brick," Brown said.

Route 90 at St. Vincent’s on the Avalon has sustained some damage overnight. <br><br>Motorists should avoid this area at this time. <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#nltraffic</a> <a href=";ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#LarryNL</a> <a href=""></a> <a href=""></a>


In Bay Roberts, Mayor Philip Wood told CBC News that the biggest damage the town suffered was to its softball field. Wood said the field's dugouts were "completely annihilated."

Wood is asking the public to stay away from the field until it's cleared by town staff.

"To clean up around our roads and that, it will certainly take a number of days," he said.

"[It was] a nasty old night."

The Wilbur Sparkes Recreation Complex in Bay Roberts suffered damage to its dugouts. (Philip Wood/Twitter)

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