A towering iceberg, about the same size as the one that brought down the Titanic, is wowing residents and tourists off the coast of Newfoundland.
The Canadian Ice Service classified it as “large,” meaning it is between 151 and 240 feet tall and 401 and 670 feet long.
The spectacular sight is linked to an absolutely miserable weather pattern that has tormented Newfoundland this spring.
“Since early April, we’ve had persistent winds from the north and northeast, which pushed the iceberg closer to shore,” said Newfoundland broadcast meteorologist Eddie Sheerr.
These same icy winds have combined with moisture streaming in off the ocean to blast Newfoundland with extreme amounts of snow and ice.
The snow came first.
In late March and early April, back-to-back coastal storms bombarded the town of Gander with 54 inches of snow. With 41 inches on the ground before the storms, the town’s snow depth reached 95 inches, the highest on record.
Then came the ice.
Sheerr said parts of Newfoundland witnessed 50 to 60 straight hours of freezing rain and drizzle late last week and this weekend, causing ice to cake trees, power lines and other exposed surfaces.
— Eddie Sheerr (@EddieSheerr) April 23, 2017
As all of this stormy weather walloped Newfoundland, the cold northeast winds pressed the iceberg closer and closer to shore. The berg ultimately ran aground just off the coast of Ferryland, a fishing village on Newfoundland’s Avalon Peninsula.
Icebergs are nothing new in Newfoundland, which lies in what is known as “iceberg alley.” But Sheerr said this iceberg occurred at an odd time of year in an unusual place.
Peak iceberg season is from May to early July, Sheerr said. And they’re most frequently seen from Newfoundland’s north shore, near Twillingate and Fogo Island. “That’s where you go in the summer to see the icebergs,” he said.
While the occasional iceberg floats by the Avalon Peninsula in southeast Newfoundland, this one stands out, Sheerr said. “It is so big and so close to a community — like you can reach out to touch it,” he said. “It’s similar to the size of the one the Titanic struck about 300 miles to the east.”
Sheerr stopped short of blaming climate change for this iceberg event, linking its presence instead to the regional weather pattern. But he said Newfoundland may see more icebergs in the future.
“The icebergs come from the western ice sheet of Greenland,” he said. “As we have more calving events, we’ll have more icebergs off Greenland where they can get picked up by the Labrador Current and pushed south.”
The Ferryland iceberg is one of an abnormal number spotted this spring. “The International Ice Patrol said 648 icebergs have been seen in the trans-Atlantic shipping lanes as of this week,” CNN reported. “That’s compared to an average 212 icebergs during that period in a typical year.”