Storm washes away areas of Trans-Canada Highway in southwestern Newfoundland

‘We’re still looking at another 12 to 18 hours of rain,’ says meteorologist

The Department of Transportation is reporting multiple washed out roads in the Codroy Valley area, including two parts of the Trans-Canada Highway near Doyles, after a rainstorm pummelled Newfoundland’s southwest coast overnight.

The department reported the following road closures:

  • Trans-Canada Highway five kilometres southwest of Doyles intersection, both lanes are washed out.
  • Trans-Canada Highway 16 kilometres southwest of Doyles intersection, one lane washed out.
  • Trans-Canada Highway 25 kilometres northwest of Port aux Basques.
  • Route 406-11, Doyles Station Road, an alternate route is available.
  • Route 413-01, St. Andrews Road, an alternative route is available.
  • Loch Lomond Road, one lane is closed.
  • Upper Ferry Road, one is lane closed.

Environment Canada said Port aux Basques has received 128 millimetres of rain as of 9:30 a.m. NT Wednesday.

In a statement to CBC News, the RCMP said there’s a closure on the highway near South Branch due to a total washout of a bridge. The RCMP said the westbound off-ramp of the highway into Port aux Basques is also closed because of flooding. Police are asking motorists to stay off the Trans-Canada Highway between Cape Ray and North Branch due to heavy flooding.

Rodney Barney, a meteorologist with Environment Canada’s weather officer in Gander, said the rain should intensify early Wednesday morning, as meteorologists expect the system to bring 150 to 200 millimetres of rain to the area in total.

“We’re still looking at another 12 to 18 hours of rain,” he said. 

“It looks like through the morning hours is probably when the heaviest part of the shower activity will be occurring for today, then gradually winding down as we go into the afternoon and evening.”

Barney said another 50 to 80 millimetres of rain could fall, with as much as 150 millimetres over high-elevation areas. 

Winds gusted in excess of 130 km/h in the Wreckhouse area, but have diminished slightly Wednesday morning reaching about 90 km/h, Barney said. He said the wind is expected to pick up again later Wednesday morning.

The brunt of the rainfall is confined to the southwest corner of the island, meaning the Port aux Basques area and as far east as La Poile can anticipate the storm to continue to soak the communities.

In a news release, the RCMP said Department of Transportation crews were working in the Codroy Valley areas to assess the damage.

Water levels have risen at the Red Rocks turnoff near Port aux Basques. (Troy Turner/CBC)

‘All I could hear was pavement cracking’

Ryan Moore, who lives in Doyles, was driving along a stretch of roadway Tuesday night when the asphalt beneath his truck gave way. 

“I was kind of in shock. [The] airbags and everything went off and I jumped out,” he said. 

“I looked behind me and there was just a black hole behind me … all I could hear was pavement cracking, it was pitch black so I couldn’t really see what was going on.”

Moore said he had actually sold that truck earlier in the day. Now it’s a total write off. 

Ryan Moore was driving his truck along a stretch of road near Doyles when the asphalt beneath him crumbled. (Submitted by Ryan Moore)

He said he nearly made it across the culvert when it caved in, his front wheel breaking through and bouncing the truck back onto hard ground on the other side. 

“I’ve been driving that road my entire life and something didn’t look right,” he said. 

Moore is safe. He used the phone from a nearby neighbour’s house to call for a ride home. He said a tow truck should be able to remove his now abandoned vehicle from the road early Wednesday morning. 

Meanwhile, Marine Atlantic ferry crossings between Port aux Basques and North Sydney, N.S., are cancelled on Wednesday because of the storm, leaving some passengers stranded who are trying to get home.

Jason Caron had been in Newfoundland for the last week, working construction on Walmart stores on the island. With the work completed, he was headed for home, until the ferry cancellations deflated his plan. 

Now he’s unsure of when he’ll get to leave. 

“We think maybe Tuesday will be possible, but we’re still waiting on a response from Marine Atlantic,” he said. 

According to Marine Atlantic’s website, ferry crossings on Thursday could also be impacted by the storm. The company said the forecast will continue to be monitored and customers will be advised of any schedule changes.