Storm system cuts through Manitoba, brings snow, rainfall warnings

Manitoba is getting pelted by a bit of everything — rain, snow, sleet, slush and ice pellets — as the first storm system of the season rolls through the southern half of the province.

A Colorado low, which moved in from the United States on Wednesday, is cutting across Manitoba from the southwest corner into the Red River Valley and northwestward toward Berens River.

As a result, the entire southern region is littered with winter storm warnings, winter storm watches and rainfall warnings. As well, travel is expected to be hazardous in many areas due to reduced visibility.

Whether an area is getting snow or rain depends on which side of the storm’s line it falls. The line pretty much bisects Winnipeg, which is getting a mix of both and everything in between.

West and north of Winnipeg, where temperatures are lower due to a cold front from Saskatchewan, there’s a winter storm warning.

It’s beginning to look a lot like winter in Winnipeg. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

About 10-15 centimetres of snow fell across the Parkland region on Wednesday and another 10-15 cm will likely fall on Thursday, said Environment Canada.

But the biggest impact will be in the area between Brandon and Winnipeg, said CBC meteorologist John Sauder.

“I think the highest amounts will be west of the Red River Valley, that where I think we could see upwards of 50 cm in areas like Carman and out through Portage la Prairie and right along the Trans-Canada [Highway], and I know this is a very important weekend for travel,” he said, talking about snowfall totals to Saturday morning.

Winnipeg will see a mix of snow and rain on Thursday but about 10-15 centimetres of snow will fall on Friday, says CBC meteorologist John Sauder. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

In Winnipeg, temperatures will be just slightly above the freezing mark Thursday, which should limit snow accumulations, but there will still be some shovelling to do, said Sauder.

“I think what it’ll be is 20 to 30 millimetres of rain at first, [then] five to 10 cm of wet snow on Thursday. But things really ramp up as this Colorado low gets a little closer and we’ll get another 10-15 cm on Friday,” he said.

South and east of Winnipeg, there’s a rainfall warning. Already saturated places like Steinbach, the Whiteshell and Sprague could see another 20-40 millimetres.

Some Winnipeggers who were caught in morning flurries while waiting for buses weren’t too pleased with the sudden weather change, particularly since Monday’s and Tuesday’s temperatures peaked at 19 C. 

“I don’t like it. I hate winter,” said Gordon Graham, brushing snow off his wool sweater.

“I’d be OK if it was in November, but this is October,” said Rebeca Thomson. “Some days it’s snowing, some days it’s raining — sometimes you question what’s going on.”

Rebeca Thomson says she’d be much happier if the snow held off until November. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

But not everyone was upset.

“I absolutely love this weather. I’m pagan, so this just makes me think of Scandinavia and Germany and the beautiful weather that comes with that,” said Daniel Boiteau, beaming while flakes settled on his beard.

“Snowing is actually really, really, really good. How could you be unhappy in this warm weather? I don’t even need this toque.”

Daniel Boiteau says he sings songs ‘and it keeps my spirit warm.’ (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

He just moved back from Calgary and said he’ll miss the chinooks that brought some respite during the dead of winter, but he is fully prepared to deal with the Winnipeg cold.

“I’m a born-and-raised Winnipegger and I’m absolutely proud of it,” Boiteau said, adding he has a method to beat the chill if he needs to be outside.

“I stand around and I sing songs and it keeps my spirit warm.”

The storm system is also bringing strong northerly winds. Sauder said they’ll gust 40-60 km/h on Thursday and potentially reach 70-80 km/h. 

The combination of that and the wet snow could pose a problem with tree branches or power lines, Environment Canada said.

Manitoba Hydro tweeted a similar warning.

Hydro spokesman Bruce Owen said preparations began earlier this week, when the grim forecasts first came out, to ensure staff and equipment would be at the ready to respond.

“For example, some on-call staff have taken field vehicles home so they can respond to outages at a moment’s notice. We are also co-ordinating response with other emergency services, such as the Winnipeg Fire Paramedic Service, in the event we see power lines down in Winnipeg,” he said.

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