Lyndsay Morrison, staff writer
March 15, 2011 — With the arrival of St. Patrick's Day comes the legend of Sheila's Brush in Newfoundland. Who is Sheila, and what is Sheila's Brush? The Weather Network explains.
Chances are, if you live in eastern Canada, you've heard of a storm referred to as “Sheila's Brush.” But who is Sheila? And what is Sheila's Brush?
“Sheila is related to [St.] Patrick in some way,” says David Phillips, Environment Canada's Senior Climatologist. “Now mystery has it, it's his wife or sister or mother or mistress or housekeeper.”
In weather legend, Sheila's Brush is recognized as a winter storm that falls near St. Patrick's Day in Newfoundland. The idea is that the storm is one of winter's last, and that Sheila is brushing the season away.
“The legend was told through the idea that after St. Patrick's Day, so from March 18th on, there is usually a sort of winter's last hurrah,” says Phillips. “It doesn't necessarily happen on March the 18th. It can happen in late March, April and my gosh even early May.”
Newfoundlanders were no doubt discussing the legend on March 17, 2008. That's when second of two powerful back-to-back winter storms roared across the province. Schools and businesses were shut down. In St. John's, even public transit was pulled off the road. Roads were completely blocked by snow. Gander saw 120 centimetres of snow - about a quarter of its' average annual snowfall in about a week.
Wondering if or when you can expect Sheila's Brush this year? Be sure to check your local forecast. You can also tune in to The Weather Network on TV, where the National Forecast comes up at the top and bottom of every hour.