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The legend of Sheila's Brush

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Chris Murphy
Weather Broadcaster

Monday, March 16, 2015, 10:45 AM -

In weather legend, Newfoundland recognizes a winter storm that falls near St. Patrick's Day as Sheila's Brush. And in 2015, the legend grows as Newfoundland is looking at 15-30cm by the time St. Patrick's Day is over.

“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.

“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.

This has been proven time and time again.

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 days away may come as relief for people in Atlantic Canada, who are bracing for yet another winter storm.

"Newfoundland will be seeing heavy snow on the Avalon this morning with snowfall rates of 3-5 cm per hour," Weather Network meteorologist Matt Grinter said early Monday. "As the afternoon approaches, snow will taper off and precipitation will fall as freezing drizzle before the next, lighter round of a rain-snow mix with some freezing rain tonight."

Making things worse will be powerful winds, reaching 100 km/h on the Avalon and staying windy before easing at last on Tuesday night.

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

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