NEWS

Hurricane Gonzalo drenches southeastern Newfoundland

10/19/2014 04:15 EDT | Updated 12/18/2014 05:59 EST
Hurricane Gonzalo was rapidly losing strength Sunday morning as it rushed beneath Newfoundland, although the storm pushed rain and high winds into southern parts of the island. 

Gonzalo, which had ramped up to a Category 4 hurricane when it attacked Bermuda, was down to just a Category 1 storm as it passed below Newfoundland. ​

The fast-moving storm was clocked at 140 km/h early Sunday, although its speed is expected to drop continually as it moves into the Grand Banks and then into the main of the Atlantic Ocean. 

Gonzalo's track since Saturday veered to the east, meaning that people in eastern and southern Newfoundland will be spared the brunt of the storm. 

By 6 a.m. NT, the centre of Gonzalo was about 45 km south-southeast of Cape Race, the southernmost tip of the Avalon Peninsula. 

Heavy rain was reported across the Avalon Peninsula. In St. Mary's Bay, the rain was falling at 54 mm per hour. Similar rates were being recorded in St. John's, although one was briefly recorded at a speed of 98 mm per hour. 

"Although that [rate] only lasts briefly, those are some very, very heavy downpours," said CBC meteorologist Ryan Snoddon.

"We have three to four hours of a solid soaking here. [But] it could be a whole lot worse, if that track had been to the west." 

The storm has had little impact at St. John's International Airport, with almost all flights on schedule. 

Road travel, though, was considered to be a riskier prospect, with numerous pools of water reported in St. John's and outside. 

"Any time when you have extreme amounts of water on the roads, like we have this morning, [you] can end up hydroplaning," said Sgt. Dave Hutchings of the Royal Newfoundland Constabulary. 

 "The only reason to be out is if you absolutely have to be out. It's not a good morning for a drive — you're just leaving yourself to the possibility of being involved in a collision."  

Worst of the storm felt offshore

Newfoundland Power said an outage affecting a neighbourhood in the Portugal Cove Road area of St. John's was connected to the weather. About 100 customers were affected. 

A few events were cancelled for Sunday, although the Cape to Cabot road race, a gruelling run that takes participants from Cape Spear to the top of Signal Hill, was going ahead despite the heavy rain. 

Gonzalo pushed warm air and humidity into the island, with early-morning temperatures in the teens in eastern Newfoundland. Blue skies and warm temperatures are expected to cover the area once Gonzalo pushes further into the ocean.  

Snoddon noted that the worst of the storm was being felt far offshore. 

Gonzalo's path will take it through the Grand Banks, including through the area where offshore oil is produced. The operators of the Hibernia fixed platform, as well as the mobile Terra Nova and SeaRose platforms, said they did not plan to move any of the workers. 

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