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State of emergency remains in effect for St. John's, Newfoundland, days after record-smashing blizzard


Days after a monster blizzard unleashed record amounts of snow to parts of Atlantic Canada, the country's federal government has ordered military assistance for some of the hardest-hit locations.

For the fifth straight day, a state of emergency remained in effect in St. John's. Mayor Danny Breen initially made the declaration on Friday, the first state of emergency declaration in nearly 36 years.

According to the Associated Press (AP), Newfoundland Premier Dwight Ball requested federal assistance on Saturday. Troops were expected to arrive Sunday to help with tasks such as snow removal, providing transportation and assisting the elderly and any other residents with health concerns. A number of residents still reportedly are stuck in their homes.

A search resumed for 26-year-old Joshua Wall, a man who had gone missing while out during the storm over the weekend, according to the AP. As of Monday afternoon, there has been no sign of him. The Royal Canadian Police are asking people near Roaches' Line to check their property in case Wall had taken shelter in a vehicle or other structures.

The Canadian Broadcasting Corporation (CBC) reported up to 300 troops were being mobilized.

Late Sunday night, more snow fell across the region, impeding recovery progress. St. John's officials said in a statement that due to the additional snowfall, gas stations will only be utilized for emergency refueling on Monday.

"The weather is going to be exceptionally quiet over the next week as a large dome of high pressure remains parked over Atlantic Canada," AccuWeather Meteorologist Alyson Hoegg said. "The exception will be [Monday night] and into the day Tuesday when there can be a few flurries or some very light snow. Even though it will be quiet, high temperatures will be below average for this time of year in the lower to middle 20s with overnight lows mostly in the teens."

"We recognize the challenges caused by this state of emergency and appreciate the cooperation of our residents as we work to reopen roads as quickly and safely as possible," officials said.

During a state of emergency, all businesses are ordered to close and vehicles except emergency vehicles are prohibited from using city streets, according to city officials.

Monday afternoon, the city permitted stores selling basic foods, "such as supermarkets, convenience stores and pharmacies," to reopen on Tuesday, Jan. 21, from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. in St. John's. The city advised residents to purchase enough food for 48 hours, and other opportunities to open food stores would be evaluated depending on the weather conditions.

"Depending upon how quickly crews can get out will ultimately determine when the state of emergency will be lifted and when any stores will be opened. While main roads will be cleared first, it may take longer for residential streets to be cleared to allow people to get out," Hoegg said.

Many residents of Newfoundland opened their doors Friday and Saturday to find a wall of snow trapping them within their own home. One family opened their garage door to find the snow piled up to more than half of the entrance. Another family opened the door for their dog, who began climbing and digging through the snow. A few people, their cars trapped in the snowbanks, turned to skiing as a method of making their way through the streets.

The storm system that had slammed the northeastern United States earlier in the week with strong winds, snowfall and lake-effect squalls exploded into a bomb cyclone on Friday after tracking into the Atlantic Ocean. The storm set its sights on portions of Atlantic Canada.

"A bomb cyclone is a rapidly deepening low pressure area which has central pressure fall of 24 mb (.7 inches of mercury) or more in a 24-hour period," AccuWeather Senior Meteorologist Jack Boston said.

The storm's barometric pressure crashed 1.21 inches of mercury within 24 hours.

Blizzard and high-wind warnings sprung up across portions of Atlantic Canada.

Snowfall at St. John's International Airport established a new all-time daily snowfall record of 76.2 cm (30 inches), beating the old record of 68.4 cm (26.9 inches) set on April 5, 1999. These records began in 1942.

St. John's East received a total snowfall of 82 cm (about 32 inches.) A little to the south, Mount Pearl received 93 cm (about 36.6 inches) of total snowfall.

People across Newfoundland found their cars buried in the snow, some of the smaller compact vehicles submerged with only the roof showing. Any thought of shoveling a driveway was dashed at the sight of the road–or rather, the lack of any sight of it.

"Bomb cyclones are capable of producing heavy, wind-blown snow with wind speeds of 60-70 km/h and higher, very heavy snowfall and extreme snow drifts," Boston said. "The storm can also bring wave heights over the coastal waters of 5 meters to 10 meters or higher."

The highest recorded maximum wind gusts in St. John's measured up to 134 km/h (about 83 mph). Green Island, Fortune Bay, recorded a maximum wind gust of 171 km/h (about 106 mph).

"Bomb cyclones are common for the eastern coast of Canada, including the Maritimes and Newfoundland, during the winter months," Boston said.

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Footnotes: Footnotes: Pic: Tom Baird, a resident of St. John's, digs out a path to find his car buried in snow that towers above his head. (Twitter/@BairdTom)