Manitobans reach for shovels after first snowfall

People in southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario were digging out after a winter storm brought heavy snow and freezing rain.
A blistering winter storm has brought with it snow and freezing rain to southern Manitoba and northern Ontario. (CBC)

People in southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario were digging out after a winter storm brought heavy snow and freezing rain.

Road conditions were hazardous all across southern Manitoba Sunday and several highways were closed in northwestern Ontario, police said. The Trans-Canada Highway west of Winnipeg to Brandon was closed Saturday night due to ice and although re-opened Sunday traffic was being diverted at the Portage la Prairie bypass due to an overturned truck. 

"Right now we still have a lot of roads with snow cover or snow pack with a lot of visibility issues in the west," said Manitoba Transportation spokesman Neil Gobelle. "Definitely drive with caution. Roads are still in no means perfect condition. As you get further west, you get more blowing snow."

The moisture-laden weather system continued to track across northern Ontario after leaving heavy snowfall across the prairies.

"The system is pushing through northern Ontario right now, but the back end of the storm is still in Manitoba, causing it to storm again today," said Meghan Yeo, a meteorologist at the CBC Weather Centre.

"Winnipeg got 21 centimetres of snow yesterday, as did Brandon," said Yeo, adding that the storm system has been pummeling the Prairies for days since it first moved through Alberta and Saskatchewan.

"They had a lot of snow," she said.

About 2-4 centimetres of snow was expected again today in Winnipeg with the temperatures expected to hit a high of -4 C.

"It was very calm during the brunt of the storm of this system. Then the winds picked up," the CBC's Katie Nicholson reported from Winnipeg on Sunday. "Of course, we weren't the hardest hit by the system," Nicholson said. "In Portage la Prairie they got 40 centimetres last night."

Tough driving

RCMP said some vehicles ended up in the ditch around rural Manitoba Saturday, but there were no reports of injury. Freezing rain caused extremely icy conditions on provincial roads south of Winnipeg.

There were also some minor delays in arrivals and departures at Winnipeg's James A. Richardson International Airport, but no major disruptions were reported. Travelers were advised to check with the airlines.

While the conditions were trouble for motorists, the weather didn't deter many who took to the outdoors on skis or with pets to grab a taste of winter.

Winnipeg resident Karen McKim and her children along with their dog Copper were playing in the fresh snow in a Fort Garry park Sunday. "They love the snow," McKim said. "They're true Winnipeggers. Winter is a good thing!"

The City of Winnipeg said plowing and sanding of streets was underway, starting with major routes. Motorists were advised to drive with caution and to be on the lookout for more than 200 pieces of snow-clearing equipment deployed for the clean-up.