Record amount of snow fell in Charlottetown Wednesday

Dave Stewart
Published on January 23, 2014

Harry Ni, Charlottetown, shovels the snow from his driveway after Wednesday’s blizzard. After the gusts up to 82 kilometers per hour, and 27 centimeters of snow, people are trying to get things back to normal.

Wednesday's storm produced a record snowfall for Charlottetown.

Linda Libby, meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the Island capital received 37.4 centimetres, establishing a brand new benchmark for the Jan. 22 date on the calendar.


Prior to Wednesday, the biggest snowfall on record for Charlottetown on Jan. 22 was 17.8 centimetres, which fell in 2002.

However, it is not a one-day record in the month of January for Charlottetown. Many people still talk about the Jan. 1, 2009 storm which dumped a whopping 51.8 centimetres on the capital area.

What makes Wednesday's storm really odd is that Summerside, roughly a 50-minute drive west of Charlottetown, only received 12.1 centimetres. North Point, by the way, received 23 centimetres. Stratford got 40 cm while Alliston received 17 cm.

"We had some of our voluntary observers out there indicating quite a variety of amounts, anywhere from about 25 (centimetres) up to a couple of locations with over 30,'' Libby said. "We have a voluntary observer out in Elmwood (central Queens County) and he came up with nearly 38 (centimetres).''

Wind gusts were measured at 70 kilometres an hour in Charlottetown, 78 in North Point, 70 in Harrington and 83 in East Point.

Libby said those winds made for whiteout conditions and high snow drifts, some of them 80 centimetres high

For snow weary Charlottetown, which got more than 130 centimetres in three weeks in December, it's yet another sign that this is one of those old fashioned winters. Thankfully, the 10-day January thaw lessened the blow.

Coun. Terry Bernard, chairman of the city's public works committee, says snow-clearing crews were scheduled to be out in full force Wednesday night, clearing parking spots in the downtown, for example.

Bernard said plows were called off city roads between 10:30 p.m. Wednesday and 1 a.m. Thursday due to poor visibility. Sidewalk units were out working by 3 a.m. Thursday.

The first priority after any snowfall, he says, is to keep the streets open. After that, the city goes back in and pulls the snow out from parking spaces into the middle of the road and uses blowers to transfer the snow into trucks.

Bernard says it will take the city at least three days to completely clear the city.

"Once you get up to 25 centimetres it usually takes longer but they're telling me this stuff is pretty light. It (takes) a maximum of five days but probably within three days it will be hauled and gone,'' Bernard said.

Libby said Environment Canada is keeping its eye on two systems, one for Saturday and another on Monday, but neither one is expected to amount to much, although AccuWeather is still talking about the potential for a nor'easter in northeastern Canada.

"We'll get a little bit of snow Saturday afternoon,'' she said. "Most of it appears to be falling as rain in the evening here.''

So, it looks like 2-4 cm of snow followed by 10-15 millimetres of rain on Saturday with temperatures climbing to plus-4.

As for Monday, Libby said the track could always change but, as of Thursday, it looked that nor'easter is going to be "much, much weaker'' than originally thought, with temperatures again climbing to plus-4.