27,000 without power

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Newfoundland Power has 27,000 customers waiting to have power restored as of early Tuesday evening as a result of damage to power lines caused by tropical storm Leslie.

Spokeswoman Michele Coughlan said power has been restored in sections of the east end and city centre of St. John's and for the majority of customers initially without power along the Southern Shore.

Newfoundland Power crews will continue working this evening to restore service before the end of Tuesday for the majority of those still experiencing power outages. Coughlan said some isolated areas would likely remain without electricity overnight and into Wednesday.

***

Newfoundland Power is still assessing damage to power lines following post-tropical storm Leslie. Approximately 45,000 customers were without power on the Avalon Peninsula as of midday Tuesday.

Outages were reported in both the east end and west end of St. John’s, according to Newfoundland Power spokeswoman Michele Coughlan, as well as in Conception Bay South, Mount Pearl, Carbonear, Dunville, Placentia, Argentia, St. Mary’s, St. Bride’s, and in communities along the Southern Shore.

CLICK HERE for photo slideshow or see photo gallery below or at this link.

Coughlan said fallen trees have contributed to much of the damage, downing many power lines as a result, and over 50 poles are known to need replacing.

Newfoundland Power hopes to have large repairs completed by midnight in order to restore power for some of those affected by outages, with isolated outages extending into Wednesday. Coughlan said as the utility company was still at the assessment stage, those timelines could conceivably be extended.

Prior to the storm, Coughlan said Newfoundland Power had contacted contractors and staff in other parts of the province in order to have them ready to respond if needed. Employees from western Newfoundland have since been redeployed to the Avalon Peninsula, with Coughlan adding that all available crews are working.

Coughlan advised those who spot downed power lines or poles to avoid coming in contact with them and to call Newfoundland Power immediately at 1-800-474-5711.

 Weblink: http://www.newfoundlandpower.com/Outages/ViewPowerOutages/Details.aspx

• Premier Kathy Dunderdale told reporters that the province didn't dodge a bullet with tropical storm Leslie, we faced it head on.

Dunderdale told reporters the storm was an important test of the province’s emergency PROTOCOLS, and lessons learned from hurricane Igor.

The government isn't aware of any injuries as a result of the storm, and only minor damage to infrastructure.

• As of about 3:30 p.m. today, the Canadian Hurricane Centre statest that tropical storm Leslie is now northeast of Newfoundland and racing away at about 93 km/h with maximum sustained winds of 111 km/h.

The centre of Leslie made landfall about 8:30 a.m. on the southern Burin Peninsula near Fortune. The storm produced winds gusting up to 130 km/h over eastern Newfoundland and rainfall amounts ranging up to 70 mm in the west, reaching near 100 mm along the long-range mountains. There were also waves exceeding eight metres along the south coast.

Much small tropical storm Michael continues to weaken and is not expected to impact the region.

Leslie caused a lot of property damage in the Avalon region and knocked out power to up to 50,000 people.

Business building, homes, churches suffered roof and siding damage; shed, decks, small garages overturned; fences and pole lines were knocked down; roads and streets were closed; schools and many offices were closed; and officials issued warnings for peole to stay at home.  

Rainfall and weather warnings have ended, however, there are still some lingering bands of showers over western Newfoundland.

• The RCMP in Holyrood advised motorist this afternoon that the Trans-Canada Highway east-bound lane will be closed about one kilometre east of the Salmonier Line so that crews can remove an overturned trailer in the median.

•••

The Royal Newfoundland Constabulary is asking that, in light of damage received this morning during tropical storm Leslie in the St. John’s area, motorists are asked to remain at home unless absolutely necessary.

The RNC notes that restricting movement on the streets will help maintenance crews clean up as quickly and safely as possible.

There are many damaged light poles, buildings, power lines down, damaged trees and tree limbs on roadways. Many streets remain closed and the RNC asks the public to repect any barricades and "do not enter" signs.

If you're driving, the police asks you to reduce your speed and be observant.

Many intersections have no power and so traffic lights are out.

If members of the public witness anything that appears dangerous they are asked to notify the authorities.

•••

The City of St. John’s is asking pedestrians and vehicle traffic to stay out of the downtown area as debris falling from buildings is making the area unsafe.

Tropical storm Leslie caused a lot of damage to buildings in the downtown area with Water and Duckworth streets being closed.

As the wind from the storm starts to lessen, pedestrians are arriving in the downtown area, but the city is warning the area is still not safe.

CLICK HERE for photo slideshow or see photo gallery below or at this link.

• The Telegram has received reports of power lines down at Empire Avenue and Topsail Road, roof damage to multiple homes in Cowan Heights, sheds flipping on Topsail Road, traffic lights out around St. John's and siding blowing off houses.

Newfoundland Power is providing outage info at tiny.cc/9o3kg .

Call 311 about downed trees and 737-2802 for downed power lines.

There is an 18-wheeler overturned at the Manuel's Access Road and police are asking people to stay inside and off the road.

 

• Residents remain evacuated from 23 homes in the Town of Badger last night because of the threat imposed by the town's derelict water tower.

Badger mayor Michael Patey told The Telegram the 80-foot tower also looms over a town school and, as a result, the town requested the school board keep the school closed for the day today.

The tower is on what is known locally as school hill, above School Road. That road remains closed off for safety reasons and is being monitored by the fire department.

"it's a huge tank and if that topples it could do a lot of damage," Patey said.

The water tower was inspected three weeks ago the mayor said.

At that time, engineers recommended the tank be taken down.

The town has been working to see that done, Patey said, but the weather came before the project was completed.

The evacuated residents are being sheltered at other homes in the community and in Gander.

 

• The City of Mount Pearl is leaving all of its facilities closed for the rest of the day. The closure will affect all city buildings, and include any night programs at the Glacier and other facilities.

In Mount Pearl, parts of Wyatt Blvd, Old Placentia Drive, Ruth Avenue, Munden Drive, Clyde Avenue and Topsail Road are all closed, due to storm debris or downed power lines.

 •••

CP - Post-tropical storm Leslie belted Newfoundland today, 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 buffeted areas around St. John’s with winds that gusted more than 130 km/h, causing damage to roofs, trees, roads and widespread outages.

“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,” he said in an interview.

The centre initially said Leslie was a tropical storm when it made landfall, but later said it was a post-tropical storm. The designation means the strongest winds and heaviest rain have spread out past the eye of the storm.

The St. John’s airport recorded hurricane-force gusts of up to 131 km/h, and a buoy in Placentia Bay recorded waves exceeding 12 metres.

Power was knocked out throughout St. John’s and communities along the southeastern coast of the Avalon, and 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, unleashing stronger winds gusting about 150 km/h.

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 RCMP tweeted a photo of a truck blown over onto its side on the Trans-Canada Highway, west of St. John’s.

The City of St. John’s closed all municipal buildings, except City Hall, due to extensive power outages. Schools and some health clinics in the area were also shut down.

Sirens wailed in downtown St. John’s as emergency crews responded to exploding power transformers, downed electricity lines and increasing wind damage.

Tree branches blocked several roads and there were multiple reports of roofs being partially blown off.

Some residents faced the blustery weather to take pictures of trees uprooted in Bannerman Park.

“It’s pretty intense,” said Holly Walsh, who was out storm chasing after classes for her therapeutic recreation course were cancelled.

“I’ve never seen this before.”

Walsh said the force of the wind blew her down at nearby Cape Spear, the most easterly point of North America, as it ripped the doors off three cars.

In the central Newfoundland town of Badger, officials declared a state of emergency and kept close watch on a 24-metre high water tower that was condemned three weeks ago.

“If we get the high winds, the engineers have advised us that it could topple,” said Mayor Michael Patey.

People from 23 homes near the tower were evacuated and an elementary school was closed.

Chris Fogarty, a manager with the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said the region may have been spared the brunt of the storm.

“The storm, had it come a few hours earlier, would have been worse for the southern part of the province due to the storm surge and high tides, so fortunately it arrived at low tide,” he said. “But there are very, very high waves coming up to Placentia Bay in particular.”

On Newfoundland’s west coast, there were concerns about flooding as the storm’s heaviest rainfall — about 100 millimetres or more were forecast for some areas — drenched the region.

Central parts of the island were also soaked, said Fogarty.

He said the centre’s radar suggested between 100 to 150 mm fell in some areas.

The centre cautioned that tree damage, power outages and property damage would likely result from the strong winds.

Bands of rain were extending out ahead of Leslie, dousing some areas on the Burin and Avalon Peninsulas with 25 mm of rain an hour.

The fast-moving storm was expected to head out into the North Atlantic, leaving cool winds and some sunshine in its wake.

Much-smaller hurricane Michael is well to the east of Leslie and is expected to dissipate east of the Grand Banks over the next day or two.

Fogarty said forecasters were also keeping an eye on a still-unnamed storm brewing in the tropics, but he said it would likely remain out at sea.

•••

As of 12:30 p.m. today, tropical storm Leslie was located about 95 kilometres northeast of Gander with maximum sustained winds near 110 km/h with higher gusts, according to the Canadian Hurricane Centre.

The storm is moving toward the north-northeast near 65 km/h and is expected to accelerate away from Newfoundland this afternoon.

 See photo gallery below or CLICK HERE for photo slideshow

Southerly winds continue to blast eastern Newfoundland with gusts reaching hurricane force from Bonavista to the southern Avalon. Further gusts above 130 km/h are possible before the storm moves away.

The storm has caused a lot of property damage, taken many trees and power is out to about 50,000 people through the St. John’s and Avalon Peninsula areas.

Waves along the south coast are still near eight metres in Placentia Bay, and along the southern Avalon.

Along the east coast waves are rising to from four to six metres and are expected to peak near nine metres offshore this afternoon.

Rainfall warnings have ended for Newfoundland, but there are still some lingering bands of rain over western Newfoundland.

Between 50-70 mm have fallen so far in the western area with near 100 mm over higher terrain, and 30-40 mm in central Newfoundland with lesser amounts to the east.

There was localized flooding, with some roads and bridges out for a time, and the Port au Port Peninsula was temporarily inaccessible.

•••

Buildings, fences, decks, light poles are taking a beating as gusts of winds in excess of 130 km/h observed on the Avalon Peninsula this morning as tropical storm Leslie hammers the province.

Waves higher than 12 metres have been observed by a buoy in Placentia Bay.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre maintains a severe weather bulletin for eastern areas of the province.

Tropical storm Leslie has made landfall with with hurricane force gusts this morning, and is rapidly moving to the northeast.

The strongest winds are to the right of Leslie’s track.

Long period waves are occurring over southern Newfoundland. Waves of four-seven metres are forecast for the southwest coast, increasing to eight to 12 metres for the Placentia Bay area, then diminishing to five to nine metres east of the Avalon Peninsula.

All City of St. John's facilities will remain closed for the remainder of the day.

There is currently no reported damage to city buildings.

Water and Duckworth Streets remaining closed for now to allow crews to deal with damage to Atlantic Place and Sir Humphrey Gilbert Building. "Mostly Atlantic Place," said city spokeswoman Jennifer Mills.

"As soon as it becomes appropriate to open the roads again we will," she said.

Mills said there has been a steady stream of calls to 311 and a priority list is being made for downed trees and other cleanup.

The City of St. John's has also received word calls about downed trees and debris have been going to 911. The city is asking residents to not call 911 unless it is an emergency. Report downed tress to 311 and downed power lines to Newfoundland Power.

Clearing all main roads of debris is the current priority for the city, Mills said. "All staff we have available are out."

""All of their saws are gased up so they're ready to go."

Canada Post says extreme weather conditions are causing problems for mail delivery in various parts of Newfoundland.

There will be no mail delivery for the 50,000 customers in St. John’s today and another 20,000 customers in Corner Brook, Grand Falls and Gander will not receive letter mail delivery, however parcels will be delivered where possible.

 Canada Post says delays can be expected for the next few days throughout the province because there are no ferries or flights carrying mail into Newfoundland until the weather improves. Once the weather does improve and it is safe to do so, mail delivery will return to normal.

•••

Power was out in several communities in eastern Newfoundland, flights were being cancelled and at least one residential area was evacuated as the province braces for tropical storm Leslie.

Newfoundland Power cited severe weather conditions on its site as it listed a concentrated range of communities, including Bauline, Witless Bay, Bay Bulls and Placentia, where electricity was down.

Rain, winds and wind gusts were gaining strength in St. John’s early today, as the centre of the storm was expected to land at around 9 a.m. near the Burin Peninsula.

The west coast of the province was also due for heavy rains, with upwards of 150 millimetres of rain expected in some regions and there were reports one area of Badger had been evacuated.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said Leslie was expected to barrel ashore in Newfoundland as a “very strong post-tropical storm” with soaking rain and potentially damaging winds.

In its bulletin issued at 6 a.m. AT, the centre said Leslie was about 400 kilometres southwest of Argentia, N.L., and moving north-northeast at about 65 kilometres an hour with near hurricane force winds of about 110 kilometres an hour.

 

 

•••

Buildings, fences, decks, light poles taking a beating as gusts of winds in excess of 130 km/h observed on the Avalon Peninsula this morning as tropical storm Leslie hammers the province.

Waves higher than 12 metres have been observed by a buoy in Placentia Bay.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre maintains a severe weather bulletin for eastern areas of the province.

Tropical storm Leslie has made landfall with with hurricane force gusts this morning, and is rapidly moving to the northeast.

The strongest winds are to the right of Leslie’s track.

Long period waves are occurring over southern Newfoundland. Waves of four-seven metres are forecast for the southwest coast, increasing to eight to 12 metres for the Placentia Bay area, then diminishing to five to nine metres east of the Avalon Peninsula.

 

•••

Damage due to high winds is being reported around the metro area as of 9 a.m.

The Telegram has received reports of power lines down at Empire Avenue and Topsail Road, roof damage to multiple homes in Cowan Heights, sheds flipping on Topsail Road, traffic lights out around St.John's and siding blowing off houses.

Newfoundland Power is providing outage info at tiny.cc/9o3kg .

Please call 311 about downed trees and 737-2802 for downed power lines.

There is an 18-wheeler overturned at the Manuel's Access Road and police are asking people to stay inside and off the road.

 

•••

Tropical storm Leslie arrived in Newfoundland this morning packing a punch, causing widespread power outages, flight cancellations, school closures and flooding in some areas.

A state of emergency was declared in Badger and some home evacuated as a precautionary measure.

According to the Canadian Hurricane Centre, maximum winds at this time are near 110 km/h with higher gusts.

The centre of Leslie was expected to make landfall in the vicinity of the Burin Peninsula or Placentia Bay about 9 a.m.

Rain is currently heavy with rates of about 25 mm per hour over the parts of the Avalon and Burin peninsulas, southeast winds are strengthening rapidly over these regions.

A private weather station at Cape Pine on the southernAvalon recently reported a hurricane force wind gust to 122 km/h.

Leslie is merging with a pre-existing frontal trough over the province and the combined system will sweep across the province today giving additional heavy rainfall to some of the areas already drenched by the system Monday.

•••

Power was out in several communities in eastern Newfoundland, flights were being cancelled and at least one residential area was evacuated as the province braces for tropical storm Leslie.

Newfoundland Power cited severe weather conditions on its site as it listed a concentrated range of communities, including Bauline, Witless Bay, Bay Bulls and Placentia, where electricity was down.

Rain, winds and wind gusts were gaining strength in St. John’s early today, as the centre of the storm was expected to land at around 9 a.m. near the Burin Peninsula.

The west coast of the province was also due for heavy rains, with upwards of 150 millimetres of rain expected in some areas and there reports one area of Badger had been evacuated.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre said Leslie was expected to barrel ashore in Newfoundland as a “very strong post-tropical storm” with soaking rain and potentially damaging winds.

In its bulletin issued at 6 a.m. AT, the centre said Leslie was about 400 kilometres southwest of Argentia, N.L., and moving north-northeast at about 65 kilometres an hour with near hurricane force winds of about 110 kilometres an hour.

 

 

•••

(Earlier story)

Municipalities scrambling to prepare for the worst storm since Igor

By the time this paper hits the streets, Newfoundland will almost certainly be feeling the effects of tropical storm Leslie.

The Canadian Hurricane Centre was predicting Monday that Leslie would land early this morning near the Burin Peninsula as a hurricane or a strong tropical storm.

The Avalon Peninsula was predicted to get a lot more wind than rain.

Gusts were expected to reach a maximum of 100 km/h with 130 km/h over the ocean.

“Whether tropical or post-tropical at landfall, it will still hit with a wallop, especially on the east side of the storm,” stated a bulletin from the centre.

St. John’s has more than 200 municipal workers preparing for the storm’s arrival.

Chris Fogarty, program supervisor at the centre, said the area of concern for heaviest rain, and flash floods, is western Newfoundland, all the way up the Northern Peninsula, as Leslie merges with the stalled front.

The heaviest rains from tropical storm Leslie were expected to hit western Newfoundland with 100-150 mm in total downfall.

In contrast, hurricane Igor dropped an estimated 200 mm of rain on some parts of the province in 2010.  Two years ago, Igor wiped out roads and bridges and caused about $125 million dollars in damages.

 

Some places in the province are still recovering from Igor’s devastation.

Newfoundlanders seem to have taken those hard lessons to heart. They spent Monday securing property and stocking up on food and water.

On Monday, in anticipation of tropical storm Leslie making landfall, a number of announcements were made to prepare residents, and to advise of closures.

All Eastern School District schools are closed for the morning. An update on schools will be provided by 11 a.m. today.

Meanwhile, Marine Atlantic’s sailings to and from Argentia and North Sydney, N.S. are cancelled for today. Monday night’s sailings to and from Port aux Basques and North Sydney were also cancelled.

This morning’s crossings to and from Port aux Basques and North Sydney may also be affected, as could the rest of the day’s schedule. Passengers who have reservations on any affected sailings will be contacted by Marine Atlantic’s customer services representatives and will be rebooked.

Targa Newfoundland also said Monday it would keep a close eye on the storm. Organizers said they would decide if and when to cancel scheduled events, depending on the weather.

In anticipation of high winds associated with Leslie, the Department of Environment and Conservation closed two ecological reserves on the eastern portion of the island — Cape St. Mary’s and Mistaken Point — for today.

The department also advised the public to avoid using the T’Railway Provincial Park except in emergency situations. Washouts and obstructions are likely during severe weather conditions.

 There were a number of road washouts and flooding on the west coast of the province Monday with the Port au Port Peninsula being inaccessible for a time.

Traffic on Route 450 at York Harbour was down to one lane in sections due to water over the road.

The Corner Brook to Stephenville access road west-bound lanes were closed at Corner Brook Stream Bridge due to flooding.

Route 460 at Ship Cove was closed because of flooding.

Department of Transportation and Works crews are dispatched to those locations.

Heavy rainfall over western sections of the province was to spread eastward overnight and into today, according to Environment Canada.

Rain, at times heavy, continued  in western Newfoundland Monday evening and is expected to continue today with the arrival of tropical storm Leslie.

 

Prepare for medical emergencies

Meanwhile, Eastern Health Monday encouraged residents to prepare for the storm.

Emergency updates pertaining to Eastern Health’s facilities or its operations will be available on the “Storm Watch” section at Eastern Health’s website at www.easternhealth.ca.

The Insurance Bureau of Canada also issued some advice to Newfoundlanders Monday.

The bureau reminded residents that overland flooding from any body of water that results in damages to a home is not covered by insurance policies, though sewer backup is if you have that coverage.

It also advised that if your property suffers damage you should wait until after the storm has passed to contact your insurer.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro was also encouraging residents to prepare their homes and businesses for power outages.

According to a news release, Hydro crews are on standby to repair any damage to the power system caused by rains and wind from the storm.

Hydro has tested its backup generation sources for emergency use and has its emergency response team on alert.

In the event of a power outage, residents are advised to turn off all light switches, except one that will notify them when power has returned, and unplug electronics such as microwaves and televisions. Any damage should be reported to their local utility.

For more information on how

to prepare at home for an outage, visit Hydro’s safety website, www.hydrosafety.ca.

 

telegram@thetelegram.com

With files from The Canadian Press

 

Organizations: Canadian Hurricane Centre, Marine Atlantic, Department of Environment and Conservation Department of Transportation and Works Insurance Bureau of Canada Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro Canadian Press

Geographic location: Newfoundland, North Sydney, Port aux Basques Argentia T’Railway Provincial Park York Harbour Corner Brook Ship Cove

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  • Harvey
    September 11, 2012 - 08:10

    Are these storms such a rare thing at this time of year? During my growing up, we always had hurricanes. What about those fabled August gales?

  • Steve
    September 11, 2012 - 07:32

    With global warming, will these hurricanes become a bi-annual or annual event, like with tornadoes in parts of the southern U.S.