More snow to fall as storm persists in southern Manitoba, northern Ontario
A day-by-day breakdown of what could be one of the worst storms in decades
Snow and blowing snow are expected to continue in southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario Thursday, but the low-pressure system responsible for the drastic return of winter is beginning to weaken, Environment Canada says.
Many road and highway closures remain in effect, provincial transportation departments are warning.
Here's what you can expect:
In Manitoba, many winter storm warnings are still in place, although the blizzard warnings that were posted for the area have been dropped.
Environment Canada says another five to 10 centimetres of snow is expected in the Red River Valley, including Winnipeg, and southeastern Manitoba.
Southwestern Manitoba, including Brandon, could see another two to five centimetres, while Dauphin and the Interlake region will see an additional five to 10 centimetres today.
"[We] may be seeing the slow decay of this storm," said Dan Fulton, senior meteorologist with Environment and Climate Change Canada.
In southern Manitoba, several stretches of highway are closed due to the weather. For an updated list of road conditions and closures, visit the Manitoba 511 page.
Some southeastern Saskatchewan highways close to the Manitoba border are also closed. Get updated information on Saskatchewan road closures on the Highway Hotline website.
Tyler MacAfee, vice-president of the Winnipeg Airports Authority, said most flights are still cancelled Thursday morning.
"A lot of that is because the planes yesterday didn't come in. Airlines pre-emptively cancelled pretty much everything yesterday, so we're seeing cancellations up to around noon this morning," he said.
For northern Ontario, a mix of winter storm and snowfall warnings are in effect.
In the Kenora area, heavy snow is expected to continue Thursday morning. Environment Canada says the snow will taper to light snow late this morning and continue into Friday morning.
The weather forecast calls for near-zero visibility due to heavy snow and wind. Snowfall rates of two to four centimetres per hour at times are expected.
Highway 17 — the Trans-Canada Highway — remained closed from the Manitoba border to Shabaqua Corners, northwest of Thunder Bay. Other closures include Highway 502, the corridor linking the Fort Frances and Dryden areas, as well as Highway 599 from Highway 17 to the end of the roadway in Pickle Lake.
Schools remain closed
Most southern Manitoba schools and some in southern Saskatchewan will remain closed on Thursday.
You can read a list of school closures for Manitoba here.
In Saskatchewan, the South East Cornerstone Public School Division in Weyburn advised parents and staff that it would be cancelling classes and programs on Wednesday and Thursday.
Wednesday was 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."
Thursday through Friday: Possible power outages
Environment Canada and electric companies say people should be prepared for power cuts as the storm barrels through.
As the weight of the snow and strength of the winds increased, Manitoba Hydro was reporting a number of power outages throughout the south.
The company says it has put all staff in the storm zone — from front-line workers to back-end and IT staff — on notice that they might be needed, and has plans in place to quickly deploy crews from Winnipeg to any particularly hard-hit areas.
Hydro One, one of northern Ontario's two electricity operators, said it was preparing for possible outages in the same areas that were affected by a storm a week ago, where more than 35,000 customers lost power.
"We are urging customers to be prepared in case of an extended power outage ... Poor driving conditions and road closures may delay power outage restoration efforts," Hydro One said in a statement on its website.
Synergy North, the other electricity operator in northern Ontario, said most power outages in the Thunder Bay area have been restored.
Natalie Hasell, Environment and Climate Change Canada's warning preparedness meteorologist, suggested during a briefing on Tuesday that people should consider remote work options while the storm continues.
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, and northwestern Ontario has a chance of flurries.
"I think Friday is a day when we're going to see better visibilities and we're going to start to see some of these highways opening up," CBC Manitoba meteorologist John Sauder said.
However, 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.
With files from Darren Bernhardt, Pratyush Dayal and David Shield