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Eddie Sheerr on being a Come From Away

The NTV Meteorologist talked about his career and moving to Newfoundland from his home in Philadephia during his keynote speech at the PAB Lifestyle Expo on Friday, May 5.

By Jaymie White Local Journalism Initiative Reporter

PORT AUX BASQUES — Before NTV Meteorologist Eddie Sheerr ever stepped up to the microphone to deliver the keynote speech for the PAB Lifestyle Expo, Mayor Brian Button, who was battling a cold, felt it important to reiterate the significance of Sheerr’s visit. “Everyone knows Eddie, of course. He’s a TV celebrity, but he’s more than that for the residents in this area over the last couple of months,” said Button. “I’ve told this story multiple times, but I still think it’s something that needs to be said each and every time that we have an opportunity. Prior to Fiona, we did have on the forecast, what was going to happen with Fiona, what weather we could expect. And as we prepared for that day, Eddie did something that he didn’t have to do, but he felt obligated to do so. Immediately after his weather forecast for the evening, he gave me a personal call and we had a chat about the weather, on the things we were doing to prepare, and other suggestions he thought we could do. Between that and the call he made, we did more preparations for the evening, and for that, I’d like to certainly publicly acknowledge Eddie Sheerr.” For his keynote address, Sheerr opted to speak about his own experiences, coming to live in Newfoundland and Labrador. Sheerr is originally from the United States. “As many know or don’t know, I’m not from Newfoundland and Labrador. I am what Newfoundlanders call ‘CFA’ or ‘Come From Away’, an endearing term I hope to lose someday, but so far I haven’t lost it yet,” began Sheerr. “I am American, I was born just outside of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, and about a year and a half ago I started my Canadian Permanent Residency. What that essentially means is I’ll have the same rights as any Canadian, except I can’t vote.” Becoming a professional meteorologist was simply a natural progression for Sheerr. “Since I was a little kid, I was oddly obsessed with weather,” said Sheerr. “I would watch these videos of tornadoes and hurricanes and lightening strikes over and over again, and how my parents felt about that, I now feel about my kids watching the Wiggles and things like that. As I progressed through my childhood, I never lost that obsession with the weather, and when I was eight I was in a hurricane when I was living in Florida.” The storm completely decimated parts of Southern Florida, but luckily for Sheerr his family was in a safer area. “Where we were, where my grandparents were wasn’t too bad. To this day, I can remember it like it was yesterday. We were in the hotel, the storm was hitting the big glass window all night, and in Port aux Basques, you know what wind sounds like,” said Sheerr. “That, I guess, piqued my interest further and then once I saw the funnel cloud appear, which terrified me, made me a bit more curious about the weather. As I got into my teenage years I became obsessed with snow. Why? I have no idea, but I started giving out forecasts for my class about snow days and I got really into watching people giving out the weather on the news and I said, ‘that’s what I want to do’.” After graduating from Plymouth State University in 2007 with a Bachelor of Science degree in meteorology, Sheerr began his career as chief meteorologist for WGXA-TV in Macon, Georgia, before relocating somewhere a little colder. Maybe it was his earlier obsession with snow that took him to Colorado, and finally to Newfoundland and Labrador as NTV’s chief meteorologist in 2013. First experiencing St. John’s in May, before making the permanent move to the province, Sheerr didn’t realize just how harsh Newfoundland winters can be. In a conversation with Lindsay Andrews at NTV, Sheerr said St. John’s never gets that much snow, a fact that was subsequently disproven during his first winter there. “St. John’s isn’t that cold, compared to Labrador City,” joked Sheerr. “And they don’t get that much snow compared to Corner Brook or St. Anthony, but St. John’s is the snowiest city in the world when it comes to actual cities. My first winter was extremely snowy. I live in downtown St. John’s and I was shoveling my car out every morning before going to work. There were snowbanks as high as my car and I never had to deal with that before. So it was a bit of a wake-up call for the weather, and I thought, ‘well, this is kind of neat’. I did like snow before I lived here.” Sheerr hadn’t intended to remain in Newfoundland. In fact, he nearly left in 2015, but then he met his wife, had two kids, and fell in love with the province all over again when he began camping in 2020. “I’ve seen a lot of this island. It’s beautiful, and the more I see of it, the more I love it.” Had it not been for meeting his wife, Sheerr wouldn’t have been here to report on two particular storms that stand out, above all others he has reported on, Snowmageddon in Jan. 2020 and Hurricane Fiona in Sep. 2022. “There have been a lot of storms I’ve covered, some of which I haven’t gotten right, most of which I have, but those two are the ones that stand out in my mind,” shared Sheerr. “The day of Snowmageddon I had to be picked up, and I knew it was going to be bad, but I had no idea how bad it was really going to be.” Snowmageddon saw 60-100 cm of snow fall over the northeast Avalon in approximately 24 hours, while wind speeds exceeded 100 km/h for over 12 hours, a state of emergency was issued, and there was an avalanche in the Outer Battery. Until COVID hit, everyone thought it was going to be the big story of 2020. Hurricane Fiona, which was the strongest storm ever to make landfall in Canada, and has had widespread impacts in the Maritimes, had a record storm surge in Port aux Basques and the devastation is still evident along the Southwest coast. Sheerr said that with the impacts of climate change, more storm surge events and extreme weather events, including more frequent and intense wildfires, can be anticipated. “Unfortunately, how you have to look at it is Canada contributes one per cent of greenhouse gas emissions, a very small percentage,” said Sheerr. Regardless, Sheerr believes the way forward is through provincial and federal governments making the necessary steps to mitigate the effects of greenhouse gas emissions moving forward, because every small step counts.

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