Manitoba winter storm closes Trans-Canada Highway

The Trans-Canada Highway through much of southern Manitoba is closed overnight due to a winter storm.
Winnipeg residents celebrate and brace for winter's worst, as a blizzard warning is in effect for part of the weekend. 1:21

The Trans-Canada Highway through much of southern Manitoba is closed overnight due to a winter storm.

Highway 1 from Virden in western Manitoba to Headingley, just outside Winnipeg, is closed due to poor visibility and poor winter driving conditions, the provincial Highways Department announced at 9 p.m. CT Friday.

A blizzard warning remains in effect for the Red River Valley, including Winnipeg, while a winter storm warning is still in effect across the rest of southern Manitoba.

CBC meteorologist John Sauder said Winnipeggers can expect to see upwards of 10 to 15 centimetres of snow overnight.

The biggest problem will be blowing snow, Sauder warned, adding that it would get worse Friday night and on Saturday. Winds are expected to gust to 70 km/h during the peak of the storm.

"Most of this happens through the evening hours, after the sun sets. You don't want to be out on highways tonight, overnight into Saturday morning," he said.

'I'm not going anywhere'

Many Manitobans are opting to stay indoors this weekend, at least until the worst of the storm is over.

Brian Macbon, who has been driving his semi-trailer west to Vancouver, said he is prepared to stay at a truck stop near Winnipeg until Saturday morning if the weather doesn't clear up sooner.

"It's just not safe driving out there, that's all. I'm not going anywhere," he told CBC News.

Visibility is extremely poor on the Trans-Canada Highway in Headingley, just west of Winnipeg. (Jeff Stapleton/CBC)

Macbon said he has been pulled off the road due to blizzards about 20 times in his 40-year career.

In Winnipeg, some have been stocking groceries and other essentials as they prepare to stay indoors this weekend.

"I like to stock up so I don't have to make an extra trip out when there's this kind of weather coming on," said Rena-Lee Muller, as she shopped for groceries.

Staff at the Food Fare grocery store on Portage Avenue said it has been busier than usual on Friday, with people picking up staples like milk, bread and eggs.

When the blizzard is over, Winnipeggers will be shovelling away 10 to 20 centimetres of fresh snow. And they'll be bundling up to do it — along with the snow and wind, temperatures are going to plummet.

Daytime highs starting Saturday and lasting through most of next week are expected to hover around –20 C. The lows are expected to be in the –25 C to –30 C range.

Normal temperatures for this time of year are daytime highs of –13 C and overnight lows of – 24 C.

Road crews ready

The City of Winnipeg says upwards of 150 pieces of snow-clearing equipment are working on the roads this weekend.

The snow route parking ban will be in effect on snow routes from 2 a.m. until 7 a.m.

City officials said it's too early to say how much will be spent on clearing snow, but it could be between $750,000 and $2 million depending on the severity of the storm.

The snow clearing budget for 2013 is set at $31 million, said Ken Boyd, the city's manager of streets maintenance.

The Manitoba government said its plows and highway maintenance crews are ready for this weekend's storms.

The province is asking motorists to be careful when approaching snow-clearing equipment on highways and provincial roads. Drivers are also being reminded to check the latest road conditions before they head out.

Mail problems

The weather cancelled classes at a number of schools across southern Manitoba on Friday morning.

It has also been causing some problems for mail delivery in some parts of the province.

"Attempts are being made to deliver wherever it is possible and safe to do so," said a statement from Canada Post.

"However, Dauphin letter carriers will not be able to complete delivery of residential mail today due to high winds, blowing snow and blizzard conditions. Residential sidewalks are snow drifted 2-3 feet deep in places.

"All business mail will go out for delivery today as well as parcel products where possible. Some 3,300 residential and rural route customers will not get mail delivered today in the Dauphin area."

The blizzard warning is also having an impact on Winnipeg cemeteries.

City staff say Brookside, St. Vital and Transcona cemeteries are closed to the public this weekend because of heavy snow and strong winds.