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Life in Newfoundland

Newfoundland sea ice, April 2017

After some quick looks at the state of the sea ice in JanuaryFebruary, and mid-March, Newfoundland’s sea ice finally made it to St. John’s in the last 2 days of March, which is right on time.

Enthusiastic reports on the Weather Network and social media quickly created a buzz around the whole thing, and curious crowds wasted no time descending upon the beach, with some even venturing out on the ice a little further than sensible.

I’m sure plenty of baymen were amused by this sudden interest from all us townies, after all if you live on the northwest shore of the island you see this kind of thing every year, in some years for months at a time. On the Avalon however, the sea ice isn’t as reliable a guest, showing up maybe once every 3 or 4 years, and then offering a spectacular and irresistible change of scenery overnight.

Because the continuous cloud cover made it hard to see the scale of 2017’s icy invasion on satellite images, I just regularly checked the webcams. Yesterday however, the veil lifted enough to have a decent look from above (using NASA’s worldview):

Sea ice all over Newfoundland’s north and east shore – April 5 2017

You can easily see the large white pockets of ice tucked away in all the north facing bays, but for a better look at the Avalon’s ice situation I also pulled up the 7-2-1 band, which shows thermal anomalies, like cold sea ice in bright blue:

Bright blue shows cold ice in the 7-2-1 band – April 5 2017

Now the ice can be seen underneath the veiling clouds along the east coast. The wind has spread it out quite a bit, as wind tends to do, but the ice still clings to land at Cape Race and Mistaken Point.

For those of you curious as to why I like sea ice: quite simply, it comes bearing gifts from the north! Icebergs, seals, polar bears, and like I said before, a spectacular change of scenery, I thinks it’s amazing. I absolutely love sea ice and if I were still living in Newfoundland today, no amount of wintry weather would keep me inside, I’d be out on the trail having a great time!

Stay safe and have fun everyone! ūüôā

Update

Because today was such a clear day (at least it was when the satellite flew by), here’s a quick update with today’s picture, just the Avalon and its sea ice:

Avalon Sea Ice – April 6 2017

Spring visit to Newfoundland

Next month I’m coming over for a visit. ūüôā

My mom is visiting me on Prince Edward Island first and after I show her around there, we’ll be taking the ferry from Nova Scotia to Port aux Basques and start a trip along the beautiful west coast of Newfoundland:

Spring vacation in Newfoundland, May 2017

As you can see I’ve marked some interesting travel options on the map, I’m not sure if we’ll get to see them all but with 12 full days on the island we should be able to see quite a bit!

I’m really looking forward to seeing Newfoundland again, I moved away nearly three years ago and I still miss it every day. On our visit I hope to see moose and especially icebergs again, which shouldn’t be too much of a problem on the Great Northern Peninsula.

After our visit to Newfoundland my mom and I will return to PEI to meet up with my sister in Charlottetown, at which time we’ll embark on a grand tour of Prince Edward Island, New Brunswick and Nova Scotia together. For more about that part of the trip, check out my other blog.

10 year iceberg comparison

With April just around the corner, let’s try to¬†work out¬†what kind of iceberg season 2017 will bring.

Below you’ll find¬†10 years of¬†Canadian Ice Service iceberg charts for every March 31 (today)¬†and every May 20 (the usual ‘peak’ of the Avalon iceberg season), gathered¬†side by side¬†in order to see how the 2¬†dates compare over the course of each season:

Without even clicking on the¬†charts you can see which seasons are good and which are poor. The numbers in¬†the map¬†grids represent the number of icebergs in that area, and in the overview you can see that 2010, 2011 and 2013 were¬†lacklustre iceberg years (for the Avalon Peninsula), and what’s more, you could already tell that¬†by looking at the March 31 charts.

This numbers game works the other way around too, but with a provision. In some years you can¬†see¬†the numbers are promising¬†early on, a good sign, but without accounting for wind and weather there’s no¬†way of knowing if those numbers will show up near shore. If an iceberg is further out than a few kilometres, it’s just a white dot on the horizon, and you’ll need to hop on a tour boat to see it from up close.

On the other hand, we only need a small number of bergs near shore to have some happy iceberg watchers!

Now that we’ve gained these¬†little insights from studying¬†the past, let’s have a look at the present:

March 31, 2017 – Canadian Ice Service

That’s today’s iceberg chart, and as you can see the season looks quite promising, leaning towards becoming a good season. There is¬†a decent number of icebergs near the Avalon already, so get ready to see them arrive along¬†the East Coast Trail¬†soon, maybe even this weekend. In northern Newfoundland, numbers are closer to the sluggish 2013 season, so we’ll have to wait and see how it turns out there, but I’m thinking it’ll either be normal or good.

In the end, predicting an iceberg season comes down to keeping your eye on the ball: you just have to watch¬†where it’s going –¬†daily iceberg charts can be found here.

Last day of winter, on satellite

Today was the last day of winter and because it was so nice and clear I checked the daily satellite photos, which showed Newfoundland in all of its wintry splendour:

Sea ice, snow, and wispy clouds over Atlantic Canada – NASA Worldview

A closer look at Newfoundland – NASA Worldview

Isn’t she a beauty?

You can clearly see the ‘river of sea ice’ flowing down the Labrador coast and splitting up¬†just above the Great Northern Peninsula, you can also see that snow is starting to melt on the Avalon: get ready for a beautiful¬†spring! ūüôā

As always, you can check out these satellite images for yourself over at NASA.

Otter slide in Small Point Cove

It’s always nice to see otters when you’re out on the coast, especially when they’re being playful.

Here’s a scene I came upon five years ago when I was hiking the East Coast Trail above Spout Cove, one of the many scenic places on Stiles Cove Path:

Otter snow slide – Stiles Cove Path

The otter itself was nowhere to be seen, but it was easy to see evidence of its playful behaviour: first the animal climbed all the way up to the highest snowy point on the cliffs, then it used the ‘snow slide’ to get all the way back down again – the fun way. Needless to say these otter shenanigans brought a smile to my face!

Strong wind over Newfoundland

When it’s windy outside I like to have a look at the wind map over at Earth Wind Map, which shows you just how strong the wind is, where it’s coming from, and what it’s likely to blow¬†in¬†to shore from the open ocean, like for example oceangoing¬†birds, and at this time of year maybe even a few icebergs!

Earth Wind Map – March 11, 2017

Update

Yesterday’s storm was very powerful with extreme gusts that caused serious damage:

Top wind gusts by CBC Meteorologist Ryan Snoddon

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