A day-by-day breakdown of what could be one of the worst storms in decades
Manitoba, Sask., brace for major spring blizzard
A major spring blizzard is expected to dump significant amounts of snow across southern Manitoba and Saskatchewan over several days. The storm could cause major travel disruptions and power outages, Environment Canada says.3:46
People in parts of Saskatchewan and Manitoba are facing blizzard warnings on Wednesday as a major winter storm moves through the provinces and into northwestern Ontario.
Environment Canada posted blizzard warnings for southeastern Saskatchewan and southern Manitoba, along with winter storm warnings for many other parts of Manitoba and Ontario.
Travel conditions in the affected areas are expected to worsen as the day goes on.
Here's what you can expect:
Wednesday morning: Travel concerns
Snow will continue in southeastern Saskatchewan Wednesday morning as the Colorado low continues to affect the area. Environment Canada says blizzard conditions will quickly develop as the system intensifies, with northerly winds gusting to 60 km/h and snowfall of 25 to 50 centimetres.
In Manitoba, as the system intensifies blizzard conditions are expected to spread quickly northward throughout the morning. Wind gusts of up to 70 km/h are forecast.
Environment Canada warned motorists that roads in affected areas could become treacherous due to snowfall accumulation and low visibility, and it said they should avoid travel or expect delays if they attempt to travel.
The RCMP in Manitoba are ready to close highways when necessary. So far, the list is:
- Trans-Canada Highway from Headingley (just west of Winnipeg) to the Saskatchewan border.
- Highway 75 from Morris to the U.S. border.
- South Perimeter Highway in Winnipeg.
- Sections of highways 3, 6, 7, 13, 14 and 23.
Police are strongly advising people against travelling and warning those who do that rescuers may not be able to help them if they get stranded or need assistance. For an updated list of road conditions and closures, visit the Manitoba 511 page.
Natalie Hasell, Environment and Climate Change Canada's warning preparedness meteorologist, suggested during a briefing on Tuesday that people should consider remote work options over the next few days.
Communities outside of the areas where snowfall warnings have been issued will also be affected by the storm. Although they will likely see lesser snowfall, "conditions will likely be difficult," including the potential for reduced visibility.
In the Kenora, Ont., area, light snow is expected to become heavy Wednesday morning and continue into Thursday morning, Environment Canada says.
9 a.m. Wednesday: Schools close
School divisions in Winnipeg announced late Tuesday that all schools and administration offices across the city will be closed Wednesday and Thursday, and that staff are encouraged to stay home.
It is the first snow day for Winnipeg students since April 1997, when a three-day blizzard hit southern Manitoba, leading to what became known as "the flood of the century."
You can read a list of school closures for Manitoba here.
During Wednesday: A brief reprieve
A short break in the storm is expected at some stage on Wednesday, but residents of Saskatchewan and Manitoba shouldn't take it as a sign to head out and about, or to try and shovel snow from their property.
"Don't be fooled. This is merely a pause," Hasell said.
"Imagine this as waves of the storm. So the first wave occurs, then there's a bit of a break, then there's the second wave."
Wednesday evening: Travel difficult
Travel is expected to become increasingly difficult as Wednesday progresses and police close roads. By Wednesday evening, travel within cities or communities may become impossible due to the accumulation of snow and low visibility.
CAA Manitoba is urging people not to drive on closed roads, because roadside assistance crews won't be able to reach them. The agency is bringing back staff from vacation and putting more workers into call centres to ensure there are enough workers to help any stranded drivers.
During Thursday: Heavy snow in northwestern Ontario
Hasell says the Colorado low will continue north, bringing "a lot of snow and strong winds" to northwestern Ontario on Thursday and Friday.
There is also a chance of freezing rain in areas around the border with Manitoba. Winds will continue, though they may be less strong than earlier in the week.
Wednesday through Friday: Possible power outages
Environment Canada and hydroelectric companies say people should be prepared for power cuts as the storm barrels through.
Some Manitoba stores sold out of generators earlier in the week as people readied their homes for the storm.
Preparing for a spring blizzard
The major spring blizzard heading for southern Manitoba this week has people flocking to the stores before the storm hits.1:44
Manitoba Hydro has put all staff in the storm zone — from front-line hydro workers to back-end staff and IT workers — on notice that they might be needed.
Bruce Owen, media relations officer for Manitoba Hydro, says there are plans in place to quickly deploy crews from Winnipeg to any particularly hard-hit areas.
For tips on how to prepare for an outage, visit the Manitoba Hydro website, the SaskPower website or the Synergy North website.
Friday and Saturday: Calmer conditions
By Friday morning, a total of up to 30 to 50 centimetres of snow is expected in southern Manitoba, though up to 80 centimetres is possible in some areas of higher elevation, Environment Canada says.
The snow and winds are expected to taper off in Winnipeg on Friday, but once the storm reaches the Great Lakes, it's expected to shift north — which could affect areas in northeastern Manitoba.
Temperatures in Manitoba are expected to remain below normal for several days, and snow and ice could continue to cause issues for motorists.
Environment Canada says the cleanup from the storm will likely last well into next week.
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