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Manitoba braces as ‘historic’ winter storm to start Tuesday night

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Manitoba braces as ‘historic’ winter storm to start Tuesday night
The winter storm watch for southern Manitoba is now a winter storm warning and the province is bracing for what could be the biggest storm in years. Brittany Greenslade reports on Manitobans stocking up on supplies before the snow hits – Apr 12, 2022

he winter storm watch for southern Manitoba is now a winter storm warning and the province is bracing for what could be the biggest storm in years.

“The blizzard warning is for slightly worse visibility that we’re expecting west of here, so that’s a quarter-mile of visibility or less for four hours or more,” Environment Canada’s Chris Stammers told 680 CJOB’s The Start.

Travelling could be dangerous and Manitobans are urged to avoid it if possible, as well as to stock up on medication and other essential supplies.

Residents are also being encouraged to prepare for a potential power outage.

Manitoba Hydro’s Bruce Owen told 680 CJOB the chances of large, widespread outages will depend on the type of snow we get.

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“Is it going to be that wet, heavy snow? Is it going to cling to power lines? Is it going to freeze them? The winds in the forecast — is that going to cause these power lines to blow in the wind and bang together, even snap and break?”

Owen said Manitobans should have a few basic things ready in case of a prolonged outage.

“(Have) a flashlight, but with extra batteries. Make sure your cell phone — that you can charge it. That may mean going to your car and running your car for a little bit and using a portable charger from your car and coming back inside,” he said.

“Blankets, candles, but matches too. A first aid kit. Just have these things on hand, and you can find them in the dark, and you’re good for approximately 72 hours.”

Owen said Hydro will also be bringing in extra crews to ensure any outages are dealt with quickly.

Click to play video: 'Manitoba Hydro preparing for massive winter storm'
Manitoba Hydro preparing for massive winter storm

The City of Winnipeg said an extended parking ban will go into effect at 12 a.m. Thursday banning parking on snow routes from midnight and 7 a.m.

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Mayor Brian Bowman said the city would proactively close a number of facilities including indoor pools and fitness centres as well as libraries on Wednesday until further notice due to the storm.

Garbage and recycling collection will also be suspended on Wednesday, the city said.

“We’ll weather this storm as we always do, but it’s going to take some effort over the next few days,” Bowman said.

“Please contact friends, family, those that may just need to know that they’re not alone during a storm and see if you can provide assistance to your friends, family and neighbours.”

The province said Tuesday afternoon that it will be continually monitoring highway conditions and has Manitoba’s heavy equipment fleet standing by, including 340 truck plows, de-icing equipment and motor graders.

“Wind is the culprit that brings this all together in a nasty way,” said Greg Gust of the U.S. National Weather Service.

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It is expected to begin early Tuesday evening with snow coming up from the U.S. and pushing north overnight.

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Fifteen to 20 centimetres of snow is likely by Wednesday afternoon in Winnipeg, with a potential for another dumping Wednesday night through to Thursday night.

The snow is going to be accompanied by a strong northerly wind which will gust between 60 to 70 km/h an hour.

Early Friday, the storm is expected to peter out, yet Environment Canada says there may be a break from the snow for a short while Wednesday afternoon or evening.

Flooding continues to be a concern on people’s minds especially given the massive blizzard that hit Manitoba 25 years ago that started a chain of events that led to the “flood of the century.”

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“We’re seeing a signal to maybe going above zero, kind of around the middle of next week, and even then it looks like a slow melt at that, so that’s encouraging news for the flood situation,” Stammers said.

Although the storm is drawing comparisons to 1997, Stammers said it may not reach those heights — at least in Winnipeg.

“I don’t think we will be quite that bad in the city but certainly west of here could see some pretty high amounts similar to that.”

Click to play video: 'Climate change a ‘factor’ in severity of April blizzard bearing down on Manitoba and Saskatchewan, meteorologist says'
Climate change a ‘factor’ in severity of April blizzard bearing down on Manitoba and Saskatchewan, meteorologist says

“The 1997 storm that lasted from the fourth to the seventh of April was described as the storm of the century, and it was followed by the flood of the century — and it was a similar size and importance, perhaps, as what we are seeing here coming up in a few days,” said Environment and Climate Change Canada warning preparedness meteorologist, Natalie Hasell.

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“But if we look at other times of year — this might be a little bit easier to remember since this happened more recently — we don’t have to go very far back.

“The pre-Thanksgiving storm that we had in October 2019 was actually also a Colorado low, a very similar system to what we are seeing coming to us starting tonight.”

Hasell said a major difference this time around is the precipitation will be in the form of snow rather than a snow/rain combination as seen in 2019. Also, most trees are still without leaves, so the weight of the snow won’t cause the same type of damage, despite a similar overall impact.

Click to play video: 'Preparing for severe weather'
Preparing for severe weather

Winnipeg’s Richardson International Airport is also preparing for the storm as many travelers may find their flights being cancelled.

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“We’re expecting to see airlines feeling like they can’t leave the aircraft here if they get snowed in so expecting to see some pre-emptive cancellations.” said the Winnipeg Airports Authority’s Tyler MacAfee.

“(Airlines) want to understand both can they get in safely, but can they get back out as well — and what’s the impact of that for their route network?

“There’s a lot of decisions that go into it… and sometimes airlines kind of make that decision early on, just to say, ‘we’re going to try to re-book people now and not chance it’.”

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