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Climate: Newfoundland

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Article Information
Category: Weather Weather
Content source: SKYbrary About SKYbrary
Content control: Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS) Royal Meteorological Society (RMetS)
Tag(s) Climatic Phenomena

The weather has a profound influence on the planning of flights which are destined for Newfoundland or which use aerodromes in Newfoundland as potential alternates or enroute diversions.

The Climate of Newfoundland

map of Newfoundland and Nova Scotia showing major aerodromes

Newfoundland has a Humid Continental climate (Köppen climate classification Dfb) influenced by coastal currents and icebergs. Summers are usually pleasant but brief. July mean temperatures remain cool along the southern and eastern coast, especially, with mean daily temperatures in the low to mid teens Centigrade. However, the interior enjoys warmer mean temperatures slightly above 15°C. In July, the maximum temperature can even occasionally rise to as high as 30°C in the interior! In winter, the Gulf of St. Lawrence, and the North Atlantic Ocean waters prevent temperatures in Newfoundland from dropping too far. Mean January temperatures range from -9°C to -7°C in the interior, to around -4°C, on the southern coastal areas.

The Gulfstream flows from the North American continent to the north central Atlantic Ocean and further towards western Europe and passes to the south of Newfoundland. Depending on propagation and distance from shore, this flow may directly influence the weather in Newfoundland by its warm water transport and resultant climatic change effects. In winter a more northerly coast-proximal propagation may result in humid air being transported into the region, with the resultant land-sea interaction leading to snow and precipitation. In Winter a more southerly Gulfstream flow may result in a greater outreach from the Labrador flow reaching Newfoundland, resulting in cold temperatures, fog in the north, clear skies in the south, In summer a more northerly propagation may result in warmer but more conditionally unstable situation, whereas a more southerly propagation may result in a more cooler and stable, yet perhaps hazier, stable situation.

Coastal fog is very frequent in the spring, on the east coast, because of the icebergs off shore. In the summer, when warm air flows from the south quadrant over the cold waters surrounding Newfoundland, fog engulfs the southwestern and southern coast … occasionally for days!

The entire island receives an abundant amount of precipitation, usually peaking in November, and reaching a minimum in April. Winter snowfall is normally in excess of 250cm everywhere, with amounts exceeding 400cm in parts of the western interior.

Spring rains often fall on still frozen ground and objects. Thus, ice storms are frequent in southern Newfoundland.

Shipping traffic in the St. Lawrence Seaway may affect smog in the area direct proportionally: eg. more shipping, more smog. This, however, is dependent on the airflow in and around the Newfoundland areas.


The following aerodromes across Newfoundland and St Pierre et Michelon are listed on SKYbrary:

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   Af:equatorial climate
   Am:monsoon climate
   Aw:tropical savannah climate
   BWh:warm desert climate
   Bwk:cold desert climate
   Bsh:warm semi-arid climate
   Bsk:cold semi-arid climate
   Csa:warm Mediterranean climate
   Csb:temperate Mediterranean climate
   Cwa:humid subtropical climate
   Cwb:temperate China climate
   Cwc:cool China climate
   Cfa:warm oceanic climate/humid subtropical climate
   Cfb:temperate oceanic climate
   Cfc:cool oceanic climate
   Dsa:warm continental climate/Mediterranean continental climate
   Dsb:temperate continental climate/Mediterranean continental climate
   Dsc:cool continental climate
   Dsd:cold continental climate
   Dwa:warm continental climate/humid continental climate
   Dwb:temperate continental climate/humid continental climate
   Dwc:cool continental climate/subarctic climate
   Dwd:cold continental climate/subarctic climate
   Dfa:warm continental climate/humid continental climate
   Dfb:temperate continental climate/humid continental climate
   Dfc:cool continental climate/subarctic climate
   Dfd:cold continental climate/subarctic climate
   ET:tundra climate
   EF:ice cap climate

Climatic and Weather Phenomena Affecting Aviation in Newfoundland

  • Fog - Fog, often persistent, affects airports in Newfoundland in spring and summer.
  • Snowfall - although airports in the region are comparatively well prepared for winter weather, heavy snowfall can seriously affect operations and runway availability (see articles on Landing on Contaminated Runways and Runway Surface Friction). Pilots should also take care to ensure clearance from snow banks while taxying.
  • Ice Storms - Freezing Rain is a significant hazard between February and May.
  • Low Temperatures - Although the Atlantic waters moderate the temperatures during the winter months, care should be taken to apply Altimeter Temperature Error Correction when the aerodrome temperature is 0°C32 °F <br />273.15 K <br />491.67 °R <br /> or colder.