Blizzard warnings and record temps — wild weather in Manitoba

Wild weather has prompted blizzard warnings, highways closures and school cancellations in southern Manitoba.
Blast of winter weather left people stranded on highways across Manitoba, including the Trans-Canada. 1:50

Visibility was extremely poor heading west out of Winnipeg on Thursday. (Marjorie Dowhos/CBC)
A number of semi-trailers, stranded at a Headingley gas station, wait for the road conditions to improve and the Trans-Canada to reopen. (Marjorie Dowhos/CBC)
Wild weather has prompted blizzard warnings, highways closures and school cancellations in southern Manitoba.

It all comes just hours after 20 temperature records were set in the province for daytime highs, including in Winnipeg which got up to 3.3 C after starting the day at –22 C.

Carman was the province's hot spot at 6 C, while several other communities reached 5 C.

The temperature swings were ushered in by strong south winds that tossed and swirled snow through the day.

They peaked in Winnipeg at 82 km/h while hitting 104 km/h in Portage la Prairie, 98 km/h in Melita, 96 km/h in both Emerson and Gretna, and 91 km/h in Roblin.

The humid weather and wind in Winnipeg caused traffic lights to malfunction all over the city.

At one point, nine police units were out directing traffic.

Police say some lights at intersections were still not working Thursday morning.

A pedestrian walks through blustery conditions on Portage Avenue on Thursday morning. (Darren Bernhardt/CBC)
Barricades block traffic from heading south on Highway 75 near Winnipeg. (John Einarson/CBC)
​The winds from Wednesday night have also left drifts of snow and debris around Winnipeg, making for tricky driving.

While the gusts have weakened in Winnipeg, areas just south of the city are being hammered by blizzard-like conditions.

A strong low pressure system over northwestern Ontario is pushing brisk northwesterly winds, gusting to 80 km/h, through the Red River Valley, primarily near the international border.

Winds are expected to remain strong until late this morning, when they will ease up and visibility will improve, according to Environment Canada.

The blizzard warning is in effect for:

  • Steinbach
  • St. Adolphe
  • Dominion City
  • Vita
  • Richer​
  • Morden
  • Winkler
  • Altona
  • Emerson
  • Morris

Highway closures

As a result of the wind and poor visibility a number of major highways were closed and RCMP were urging drivers to be extremely cautious wherever they were travelling.

The ditches along highways in the Winnipeg area were strewn with vehicles that had crashed or slipped off the icy, snowy roads. 

And the parking lots at gas stations in Headingley, west of Winnipeg, were full of stranded truckers.

Among the highways closed were:

  • Highway 75 is closed from Winnipeg to the U.S. border.
  • Trans-Canada Highway is closed from Brandon to Winnipeg.
  • Trans-Canada east is closed from Highway 207 to Hadashville.
  • Highway 5 is closed from Ste. Rose du Lac to Neepawa.
  • Highway 59 from La Rochelle to Highway 52.

Several of those have since reopened. The provincial highway information website has all of the current conditions.

Jon Birch, who left Regina on Wednesday and is headed for Winnipeg, said he had been waiting out the storm in Headingley since 11 p.m. Wednesday. He was still there 12 hours later.

Birch has been a trucker for 12 years and said this winter is one of the worst he's seen.