AP News

Storm moves out to sea after slamming Newfoundland


FORTUNE, Newfoundland (AP) — Post-tropical storm Leslie moved out to sea Tuesday afternoon, hours after its stiff winds and heavy rains pummeled Newfoundland, knocking out power to thousands and forcing the cancellation of all flights at the island's main airport.

Jean-Marc Couturier, a forecaster with the Canadian Hurricane Centre, said Leslie passed through Cape Bonavista in northeastern Newfoundland early Tuesday afternoon, and headed out to the Atlantic as a post-tropical storm.

Chris Fogarty, a manager with the hurricane center, said rain showers ended early Tuesday evening and winds, gusting at 49 mph (80 kph) on Tuesday afternoon, will diminish significantly as the storm moves further offshore. He said storm warnings have been canceled across the island.

Several towns along eastern Newfoundland had already lost power and flights were cancelled before the storm made landfall Tuesday.

Tree branches blocked several roads and there were multiple reports of roofs being blown off. Power was knocked out throughout St. John's, Newfoundland's capital, and communities along the southeastern coast of the Avalon peninsula, and all flights at the airport were cancelled.

Premier Kathy Dunderdale said there were no reports of serious injuries or major evacuations. Seven St. John's families were relocated after their social housing units were damaged in the roaring gale, she said.

Leslie was not as ferocious as Hurricane Igor, which pounded Newfoundland as a Category 1 hurricane almost two years ago and caused about CA$125 million (US$128.5 million) in damages, the Halifax-based hurricane center said. Igor was also blamed for one death.

"More rain was spread out over the island, but the severity of the storm certainly was thankfully not as strong as Igor," said Couturier.

The storm made landfall Tuesday morning, touching down in Fortune, Newfoundland, at about 8:30 a.m. AST (7:30 a.m. EST, 1130 GMT) and barreled north at about 40 mph (65 kph) before moving offshore, the Canadian Hurricane Centre said. The center initially said Leslie was a tropical storm when it made landfall, but later said it was a post-tropical storm.

The storm had buffeted areas around St. John's with winds that gusted up to 81 mph (131 kph), causing damage to roofs, trees, roads, Environment Canada meteorologist Bob Robichaud said. Waves were reaching 10 meters (33 feet) at an offshore buoy.

Extensive power outages forced St. John's to close all municipal buildings except City Hall. Schools were also shut down.

At the height of the storm, approximately 100,000 customers on the Avalon Peninsula and St. John's lost power, said Michele Coughlan, a spokeswoman with Newfoundland Power. About 40,000 households remained without power Tuesday afternoon.

Newfoundland and Labrador Hydro spokeswoman Alex Collins said the utility experienced one transmission outage.

Some residents faced the blustery weather to take pictures of trees uprooted in Bannerman Park.

"It's pretty intense," said Holly Walsh, who was out storm chasing after classes for her therapeutic recreation course were cancelled. "I've never seen this before."

Walsh said the force of the wind blew her down at nearby Cape Spear, the most easterly point of North America, as it ripped the doors off three cars.

Striking airport workers who briefly picketed outside braved powerful wind gusts that picked up a port-a-potty tied down by a rope.

Inside the airport, stranded passengers gazed up at electronic boards red with cancellations before the power cut out and they went black.

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police tweeted a photo of a truck blown over onto its side on the Trans-Canada Highway, west of St. John's.

Municipal Affairs Minister Kevin O'Brien, responsible for emergency services, said it will be at least a couple of weeks before there's any cost estimate for Leslie.

Late Tuesday, forecasters said a new tropical storm — Nadine — had formed over the open tropical Atlantic and could become a hurricane by Thursday.

The National Weather Service said that Nadine was 1080 miles (1738 kilometers) east of the Lesser Antilles and had top speed winds of 40 mph (64 kph). It was moving west-northwest at 15 mph (24 kph).

The storm was expected to resume a northwestward motion on Wednesday and stay on that course for the next few days.

And in the north Atlantic, Michael weakened to a remnant low Tuesday with maximum sustained winds near 40 mph (64 kph). It was expected that the system would be absorbed by a cold front on Wednesday.

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Associated Press writer Charmaine Noronha in Toronto contributed to this report.


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