Blizzard conditions blanket Manitoba highways, force closures

After months of unseasonably cold weather, people living in much of Manitoba were hit with another blizzard Sunday morning.

White-out conditions, winds hitting 80 km/h

Several highways in southern Manitoba were closed on Sunday due to bad conditions. This video was taken on Highway 59 in the afternoon. 0:13
After months of unseasonably cold weather, people living in Southern Manitoba were hit with another blizzard Sunday morning.
Weather warnings were in place for much of southern and northern Manitoba on Sunday. (Environment Canada)

Environment Canada meteorologist Rob Paola said Brandon had already seen 80 km/h winds by early Sunday morning.

“Winds are just starting to pick up now through the Gretna region, and I suspect winds will be picking up shortly,” he said. “They’ll really be strong by midday with gusts up to 70 km/h.”

Environment Canada instituted a blizzard warning for much the western and southern Red River Valley, as well as a number of blowing snow warnings.

A number of communities, including Winnipeg, Brandon, Virden, Dauphin, Beausejour, Neepawa and Melita all had blowing snow warnings in place.

Others, including Steinbach, Portage la Prairie and Headingley all had blizzard warnings in place.

Highways closed, visibility low

Officials with Manitoba’s department of transportation of highways said all highways in the south were snow-covered and slippery, but the biggest problem was blowing snow.
Drivers faced near-white-out conditions on highways in southern Manitoba on Sunday. This image shows how bad the roads were near Headingley around 10 a.m. (CBC)

Multiple crashes were reported, including a major one Highway 9 at Highway 44. There were no major injuries, but a number of vehicles were involved in the crash. RCMP asked motorists to avoid the area.

The westbound lanes of the Trans-Canada Highway were closed just before noon between Headingley and Portage la Prairie. RCMP said the closures were due to zero visibility and blowing snow.

In addition, advisories about poor road conditions were issued for Highway 16 from Russell to Saskatchewan as well as for Highway 45 from Russell to Highway 10.

Highway 75 from Winnipeg to the U.S. border was closed around 1 p.m. local time. Officials did not say when any of the roadways would be reopened.

Winnipeg gets blowing snow, deep freeze

The City of Winnipeg saw snow, extreme winds and ice-cold temperatures on Sunday, with temperatures expecting to dip even lower into the evening.
This light standard was knocked down on Moray Street in Winnipeg in the midst of poor road conditions and blowing snow on Sunday. (CBC)

Environment Canada forecast blowing snow with visibility less than one kilometre for much of the day in the city, as well as winds gusting up to 70 km/h and a temperature of about -24 C with a wind chill making it feel more like -39.

Things were only set to get worse with a low of -29 C forecast for the evening, coupled with an extreme wind chill making it feel more like -43.

While winds were expected to die off in the evening and overnight, cold temperatures were expected to persist into Monday, with the forecast high only reaching a frigid -24 C coupled with another extreme wind chill making it feel more like -40.

The bad weather wasn’t just limited to southern Manitoba, though. Most of northern Manitoba was under a blizzard warning as well.