Weather History: The epic St. John's snowstorm that engulfed the city

The city was in a state of emergency for eight days.

This Day In Weather History is a daily podcast by Chris Mei from The Weather Network, featuring stories about people, communities and events and how weather impacted them.


On Friday, January 17, 2020, St. John's went from looking like the capital of Newfoundland and Labrador in the winter to looking like the inside of a freezer that hasn't been defrosted in hundreds of years.

A new all-time daily snowfall record was set with 76.2 cm of snowfall, beating the previous record of 68.4 cm from April 5, 1999. St. John's Airport recorded 166 cm recorded.

The city transformed into one big snow/ice block. St. John's was under a state of emergency for eight days, meaning all businesses were closed and cars weren't allowed on the roads.

There were widespread power outages and the storm even triggered an avalanche.

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On Sunday, January 19, the Canadian Armed Forces sent troops to Newfoundland to help with recovery.

Record-breaking stats aside, this storm can not be captured in numbers, the images and tweets that came in over the storm are legitimately unbelievable.

The Weather Network's Chris Murphy appeared on CBC to report on the storm and hurricane-level winds. Luckily, he made it to the end of the interview before getting blown over. Chris said he had never felt any wind like that, adding “This is worse than Hurricane Dorian and I was there in Nova Scotia covering it."

For those who thought he was being dramatic, this is Murphy's rental car. Considering he travelled to St. John's to cover a storm, we assume he got the insurance?

He wasn't the only one with car obstacles. A St. John's man must have been confused when he opened his white garage door and saw what appeared to be another white garage door.

Cars looked more like futuristic archaeological discoveries than functional transportation.

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Pretty much the same thing with houses. This is likely where Canadians get a reputation for living in igloos.

A view from inside.

Another view from inside, because going outside literally couldn't be a thing.

Unfortunately, for one home, the outside avalanched its way inside. No one was hurt.

And that's how St. John's started 2020. To hear more about this storm, listen to today's episode of "This Day In Weather History."

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