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Newfoundland cleans up after Leslie

Staff writers
September 12, 2012 — Newfoundland began cleaning up after post-tropical storm Leslie Tuesday afternoon, with memories of Hurricane Igor still fresh in their minds.

Leslie unleashed hurricane-strength wind gusts after making landfall
Leslie unleashed hurricane-strength wind gusts after making landfall

Workers cleaned up debris from post-tropical storm Leslie on Wednesday as utility crews tried to restore power for thousands of Newfoundlanders in St. John's and on the Avalon Peninsula. 

Newfoundland Power said it was working to bring back electricity for residents and businesses one day after Leslie hammered southeastern Newfoundland.

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 across the Burin Peninsula. The centre is now officially describing Leslie's landfall as a hurricane-strength post-tropical storm.

The system hammered Newfoundland with hurricane-force winds reported in St. John's. The winds tore apart roofs, stripped off siding, toppled trees and snapped power lines as it doused the island's west coast with rain.

Utility workers around the capital city scrambled to reconnect electricity to more than 40,000 homes as police urged residents to stay indoors to avoid flying debris and help speed the clearing of roads. 

At the height of the storm, about 100,000 people in St. John's and on the Avalon Peninsula were without power for several hours. Premier Kathy Dunderdale said there were no reports of serious injuries or major evacuations.

Top gusts were hurricane strengh - clocking in at 137 km/h - while waves measuring as high as 10 metres crashed in Placentia Bay.

Some peak wind gusts:

  • Cape Pine: 137 km/h.
  • St. John's International Airport- 132 km/h.
  • Long Pond: 124 km/h.
  • Argentia: 120 km/h.
  • Sagona Island: 107 km/h.
  • Cape Race: 100 km/h.
  • Gander: 56 km/h.

Parts of Atlantic Canada were already under water on Monday, ahead of Leslie's direct hit. That prompted the Newfoundland community of Badger to declare a precautionary state of emergency and issue evacuations.

Clean-up efforts have begun
Clean-up efforts have begun

Leslie's impact:

Parts of Newfoundland's west coast were soaked with more than 100 mm of rain. The community of Cow Head, on the edge of Gros Morne National Park, recorded the most rainfall at 108 mm.

Schools were closed across the island and Marine Atlantic ferry crossings were cancelled along with flights to and from the St. John's airport. 

Debris and flying tree branches clogged roadways, prompting police to urge residents to stay indoors.

Chris Fogarty, a manager with the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said the region was spared the brunt of Leslie. 

"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. 

Still, fierce gales tossed a transport truck on its side on the Trans-Canada Highway west of St. John's, where much of the wind damage occurred. The City of St. John's closed all municipal buildings, except City Hall, due to extensive power outages. Some health clinics in the area were also shut down. 

Leslie moved quickly across the region, fizzling out about four hours after reaching land.

No deaths or serious injuries have been reported as a result of the storm, which doesn't appear to have been as significant as Hurricane Igor -- a "benchmark storm" that lingered on land for more than twenty-four hours in September, 2010, causing approximately $200 million in damages.

With files from the Canadian Press

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