Winter weather closes highways, schools in southern Manitoba

It may seem relatively calm and mild in Winnipeg, but many other parts of Manitoba woke up to winter weather warnings that forced some schools and highways to close.

No injuries after 13 car pileup near Swan River, Man., on Wednesday evening, RCMP say

Blowing snow reduces visibility on Highway 10 just north of Brandon on Thursday morning. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

It may seem relatively calm and mild in Winnipeg, but many other parts of Manitoba woke up to winter weather warnings that forced some schools and highways to close.

An intense low-pressure system will continue to work its way east today, CBC meteorologist John Sauder forecasts. Ahead of the system is a band of freezing rain that is now moving into Ontario.

To the west, behind the cold front, winds are extremely strong, which will coincide with the falling snow, Sauder said. Manitobans can expect wind gusts of 60 or 70 km/h along with three or four centimetres of snow later Thursday afternoon and into the evening.

Expect lower visibilites in blowing snow in open areas, Sauder said. 

Meanwhile, a freezing rain warning is in effect for parts of the Interlake and Whiteshell regions, as well as Nopiming, Northwest Angle Provincial Forest and three big Manitoba lakes: Winnipeg, Manitoba and Winnipegosis.

To the north, The Pas and Flin Flon areas are under a winter storm watch. About 10-15 centimetres of snow is expected Thursday, Sauder said.

This map shows weather alerts in Manitoba as of 11:30 a.m. Thursday. (John Sauder/CBC)

A blizzard warning that was in effect for southwest Manitoba, including Killarney, Boissevain, Melita, Virden, Minnedosa and Riding Mountain, has ended.

Much cooler weather will come behind this system, Sauder said. Temperatures will fall through the day on Friday as snow tapers to flurries and winds continue to gust.

Winnipeggers can expect Friday to start around –5 C in the morning and fall to –9 C by the afternoon, he said.

Poor weather conditions have led to some highway and school closures. 

The Trans-Canada Highway from Portage la Prairie to Winnipeg and from Highway 207 to the Ontario border were closed due to poor winter driving conditions but have since reopened. Several other highways were closed but have since opened again.

Crashes in freezing rain

Freezing rain in western Manitoba also led to a number of collisions — including one involving more than a dozen vehicles near Swan River, Man., about 380 kilometres northwest of Winnipeg, near the Saskatchewan border. 

RCMP said extremely icy roads caused about 13 vehicles, including several semi-trailers, to hit the ditch and each other on Highway 10, just east of town.

No injuries were reported.

More than a dozen vehicles hit the ditch just east of Swan River, Man., on Wednesday evening after freezing rain coated the region. (Submitted by Waylon Beauchamp)

"Even responding emergency vehicles slid … onto the shoulder as they arrived due to the amount of ice and that this was taking place on a sloped portion of Highway 10," RCMP spokesperson Tara Seel said in an email. 

The highway was reopened once the scene was cleared and the road was sanded, Seel said. 

School closures

Some school divisions cancelled buses and classes as a result of weather conditions. 

In Prairie Rose School Division, bus service and in-class and remote learning is cancelled Thursday. Staff are asked to report to school when it's safe to travel.

Southwest Horizon School Division is closed Thursday. There will be no buses but remote classes will continue.

In Beautiful Plains School Division, schools are open but buses are not running. Colony schools, Brookdale School and J. M. Young School are closed, while all other schools are open.

Evergreen School Division is also closed, though students in grades 7 to 12 are asked to check in with their teachers. 

All schools in Lakeshore School Division are closed due to unsafe driving conditions. There will be no remote learning.

The Trans-Canada Highway looking west from Brandon on Thursday morning. (Riley Laychuk/CBC)

Fort La Bosse School Division and the Park West School Division, which both oversee schools in southwestern Manitoba, have closed all of their schools for the day.

Mountain View School Division in the Dauphin area has closed Goose Lake High, Roblin Elementary School and Grandview School, including all classes. The remaining schools in the division remain open but buses aren't running. 

All Rolling River School Division schools are closed as well. This includes remote learning, because teachers may not have access to their materials, the division's website says.