Wreckhouse, Newfoundland and Labrador

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Wreckhouse is a geographic location in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador that is well known for extremely high winds.

Situated at the southern end of the Long Range Mountains at the western mouth of the Codroy Valley, the name originated because high winds - often well in excess of hurricane force - would occasionally blow railway cars on the narrow gauge trains operated by the Newfoundland Railway completely off the track.[1] The word "Wreckhouse" was added to the Canadian Oxford Dictonary in 2004. Although the railway was closed in 1988, the winds are still a hazard to vehicles on Highway 1 and transport trucks occasionally get blown off the road.[2]

Lockie MacDougall, a farmer and trapper, was born in 1896 and lived at Wreckhouse. He had a natural sixth sense to the changes in the weather and this ability allowed him to be employed by Robert Gillespie Reid, whose company built the Newfoundland Railway. MacDougall would inform the railway if it was safe for trains to pass, performing this task for thirty years until his death in 1965. His wife continued on with the task until she moved away from the area in 1972.

An anemometer operated by the Meteorological Service of Canada currently provides remote wind data for the Newfoundland and Labrador weather office in Gander which distributes warnings to travelers should the speed be sufficient. The term Wreckhouse Winds is used by the MSC to specifically refer to dangerous wind conditions in this geographic area.[3]

Popular culture

Wreckhouse also provides inspiration for Wreckhouse Jazz & Blues,[4] producers of the Wreckhouse International Jazz & Blues Festival.[5]

Sample Warning

Channel-Port aux Basques - Burgeo
3:45 PM NST Wednesday 15 December 2010
Wreckhouse wind warning for
Channel-Port aux Basques - Burgeo continued


Southeasterly wind gusts up to 110 km/h over the Wreckhouse region will diminish below warning criteria tonight.
A trough of low pressure from Central Québec to the Maritimes will drift slowly northeastward and weaken overnight.
Strong east to southeasterly winds with gusts up to 110 km/hour in the Wreckhouse area are expected to weaken near midnight. Wind gusts along parts of the west coast have subsided below warning criteria but will remain strong with gusts up to 80 km/hour.
Meanwhile another low pressure system is expected to develop south of Nova Scotia and track towards Newfoundland on Thursday. Winds in the Wreckhouse region will begin to strengthen late in the day Thursday with gusts to 80 km/hour expected in the evening. The gusts will diminish overnight as the winds veer to the southwest.
Additionally, very high waves and heavy pounding surf will affect the southwest coast until Thursday.

Source: Environment Canada

References

Coordinates: 47°43′36″N 59°18′06″W / 47.72667°N 59.30167°W / 47.72667; -59.30167