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‘I’ve only ever seen it in the Arctic’: Blizzard conditions continue to rage in Manitoba

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RCMP say around 100 vehicles are stranded on the South Perimeter Highway right now between McGillivray and Kenaston and crews are working to help get them moving again – Feb 1, 2022

Road closures and low-visibility conditions continue in Manitoba Tuesday as most of the province remains under a blizzard warning.

That’s thanks to a strong Alberta clipper, bringing snow and strong northwest winds gusting to more than 70-80 km/h to the province.

The falling snow and strong winds have combined to reduce visibilities to near-zero.

David Phillips, senior Environment Canada climatologist, said he’s never seen such low visibility in a city.

“The only time I’ve ever seen it is in the Arctic — in Iqaluit. Never in a city like Winnipeg.

“You’ve had certainly eight hours of blizzard-type conditions as we speak, and we’ll probably get a couple more hours of that.”

“The last thing to go in a storm like this are the winds. The snow could certainly end, but that blowing and drifting will continue for as long as those winds stay at what they are,” he said.

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Phillips said around midnight the winds are going to slow down, and the region can expect some sun Wednesday morning as the winds decrease even more.

Click to play video: 'Blizzard conditions strand motorists on Manitoba highways' Blizzard conditions strand motorists on Manitoba highways
Blizzard conditions strand motorists on Manitoba highways – Feb 1, 2022

A local driver who said he was stuck on the Perimeter near the La Salle turnoff told 680 CJOB Tuesday afternoon that he didn’t know when plows would be coming to dig his vehicle — as well as the others nearby — out of the storm.

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“I checked 511, there’s no information on there about plows,” said Dillan Magnus.

“I tried calling the non-emergency RCMP line but they just said that they’ve got a lot of calls but they know that we’re here.

“So I don’t know when people are actually coming, and then I heard on the radio that it’s too dangerous for the plows to be out.”

Read more: Snowy, blowy conditions to hit Winnipeg for 1st part of February: meteorologist

Within city limits, Michael Cantor, the City of Winnipeg’s manager of street maintenance, says the plows have been out, but the wind will continue to be an issue.

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“Crews were busy overnight, they started around 11 p.m. last night to plow the streets,” Cantor told 680 CJOB.

“We have been plowing major streets and expecting an additional 2 cm, but I think the wind is the story today, which will cause some trouble spots.

“I think we’ll probably end up visiting every street in the city — I’m talking about the major streets — and our main routes, our collector streets, our bus routes… we’ll have to inspect all of these and plow them, and we’ll probably end up plowing the sidewalks along these streets as well.”

Environment Canada meteorologist Shannon Moodie also cited the wind as a big factor in Tuesday’s storm across the region.

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“Web cams all around the Red River Valley are showing pretty wicked travel conditions,” she said.

“Once the heaviest snow moves off, we’ll see conditions improve a little bit, and then the winds will begin to die down just around lunch time.”

While Moodie said parts of southern Manitoba are being hit with gusts up to 80 km/h, southeastern Saskatchewan has it even worse — being hammered with winds in excess of 90 km/h.

Manitoba Infrastructure’s Tara Liske told 680 CJOB that the visibility is so bad in some areas that it’s not safe for her staff to be out there either.

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“This is the second time in a very short period that we’ve had to close the Perimeter,” she said.

“It’s due to visibility, the blowing snow, and the accumulation because of the structures around the perimeter.

“Our staff are on standby at the maintenance yards with the equipment, because with the road closures it’s also unsafe for our staff to be out on the highways as well.”

As of Monday morning, RCMP said they hadn’t seen any blizzard-related crashes yet, but reports of stranded drivers have been coming in.

“We’re receiving a lot of calls right now,” said RCMP media relations officer Tara Seel. “Most of our calls are related to motorists who are stranded.

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“I think it’s really important to note that if you are stranded right now that your tailpipe is clear. Don’t leave your car on the whole time — turn it on intermittently.”

Seel said tow trucks won’t go out on closed highways — and those highways should be avoided — but if you’re out there, you should still call RCMP so they know that you’re there.

Global News / Rudi Pawlychyn

Road closures: 

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  • Highway 1 from the Saskatchewan Border, through Winnipeg to Hadashville
  • Highway 101 (Perimeter Highway) closed all the way around Winnipeg
  • Highway 59 from the Perimeter Highway to St. Malo
  • Highway 75 from the Perimeter Highway to Morris
  • Highway 12 from the U.S. border to Ste. Anne
  • Highway 52 from Highway 59 to Mitchell

  • Highway 5 from the Saskatchewan Border to Riding Mountain (Highway 261)
  • Highway 10 from the south Jct. of Riding Mtn. National Park to the north jct.
  • Highway 45 from Russell to Rossburn
  • Highway 50 from McCreary to Amaranth
  • Highway 68 from Ste. Rose Du Lac to Lake Manitoba Narrows
  • Highway 83 from Roblin to Russell
  • Highway 276 from Ste. Rose Du Lac to Spence Lake
  • Highway 278 from Silver Ridge to Shergrove
  • Highway 481 from Highway 68 to Highway 276

 

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Click to play video: 'February 1st Weather Update with Kahla Evans' February 1st Weather Update with Kahla Evans
February 1st Weather Update with Kahla Evans – Feb 1, 2022

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