Newfoundland is dealing with a record-breaking blizzard that knocked out power, buried cars and piled more than 70 centimetres of snow — so far — onto parts of the province. Its capital, St. John’s, is still under a state of emergency, and the Canadian Armed Forces have been called in, and there’s more snow on the way.
Many Newfoundlanders aren’t waiting for help and have started digging themselves out of their homes. The question is: how do you dig out of a solid wall of snow?
The answer: Buckets, a bathtub and a heck of a lot of elbow grease.
Posts on social media show doors to homes blocked off entirely by snow. The wind packs it so tight that it doesn’t move or fall once the doors are opened and people start digging, said resident Mark Browne.
Browne, a manager at a contact centre in St. John’s, posted about digging out his door. He told HuffPost Canada he just started at the top and started to work his way down.
“I used a small bucket and transferred it to a larger garbage bucket, and my wife would dump it in the tub. We turned up the heat in the bathroom and closed the door to help it melt and ran a cold shower on it. The snow itself was not overly heavy, so that helped,” Browne said.
And, he took some time to have fun with it.
Once they were able to get out the door, he said he dug snow away from his windows and the dryer vent. Smart tips, both.
He said so far, he and his wife had done about two or three hours of shovelling but had another two or three left to go.
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Browne’s approach seems to be the leading method for digging your way out of claustrophobic conditions, with some variations in the mix.
Water temperature: Hot vs. cold? “Got the water running on hot, trying to get that to go,” said the person filming a video of the bucket-bathtub method that was submitted to the Weather Network and which is posted at the top of this post. “That’s gonna take a half an hour and we’re going to run out of hot water.”
One pro tip the video does show: a path of towels leading from door to bathtub to avoid hallway soakage.
Teamwork makes the dreamwork: St. John’s resident Nadine Wells had snow packed up too, although not as high up. She said it took her and a friend five hours, including a break, to dig out a path. Since her door wasn’t fully blocked, the two took a different approach.
“He did most of the heavy lifting and broke most of the snow up into large chunks and carried it away,” she told HuffPost Canada. “He climbed out the door and shovelled his way back in then I went out and we carried on for the rest of the day until it was done. Took it one chunk of snow at a time. It’s really all you can do.”
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“It was perfect snow for digging out that way, as it stayed together nicely… would be perfect for building igloos,” Wells noted of her dig out.
Speaking of which: Get creative! Newfoundlanders dug elaborate tunnels and got cosy in makeshift shelters in their quest for freedom (or maybe just an ice-cold beer).
Ruff it: Lastly, there’s also the very cute, but not super successful, dog approach.
Regardless of the chosen method, Newfoundlanders are taking the snow in stride. Browne said he wasn’t scared, because he prepared for the weather and stocked up at home.
“We are hearty people, and we will all get through it together,” he said.
Wells wasn’t fazed either.
“I’m a Newfoundlander, so I’ve seen worse than this. I lived in St. Anthony as a child and we had storms like this all the time … This is by far the worst storm I have ever seen in St. John’s though.”
Here’s hoping the snow melts in those bathtubs so residents can soak their sore muscles from all that shovelling!
With files from Lisa Yeung.