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The legend of Sheila's Brush


By Chris Murphy
Weather Broadcaster
Tuesday, March 11, 2014, 2:44 PM

In weather legend, Newfoundland recognizes a winter storm that falls near St. Patrick's Day as Sheila's Brush.

“Sheila is related to Patrick in some way,” says Environment Canada's David Phillips. “Now mystery has it, it's his wife or sister or mother or mistress or housekeeper.”

The idea is that the storm is one of winter's last, and that Sheila is brushing the season away.

RELATED: Winter storm takes aim at Atlantic Canada. Updates here.

“The legend is about the fact that after St.Patrick's Day, so from March 18th on, there is usually a sort of winter's last hur'rah”, says Phillips.

And there was a storm that proved the truth of this legend just two years ago.

On St. Patrick's Day in 2008, the second of two powerful back-to-back 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.

There is one tricky part to this legend though.

“It doesn't necessarily happen on March the 18th. It can happen in late March, April and my gosh even early May,” explains Phillips.

There are some Newfoundlanders and even seal hunters who firmly believe in this and won't head out until they know Shelia's Brush storm has happened.

The fact that spring is only weeks away may come as relief for people in Atlantic Canada, who are bracing for yet another winter storm.

Tune into The Weather Network on TV for continued updates on that system.

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