Streets flooded after southern Manitoba slammed by thunderstorms

A day of unsettled and severe weather is pounding southern Manitoba and flooding streets in Winnipeg.

Clouds and occasional showers expected throughout the weekend

Many roads in Winnipeg were flooded by Friday's downpour. (Submitted)

A day of unsettled and severe weather is pounding southern Manitoba and flooding streets in Winnipeg.

Strong wind gusts, damaging hail and torrential rain have been sweeping across the region since early Friday morning, part of "the development of dangerous thunderstorms" that started near the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border and created sudden downpours in numerous communities.

CBC meteorologist John Sauder says the storms will move out of the region by early afternoon, but another round of severe thunderstorm activity will develop later in the day.

And the encore could be worse.

"It was all show and no blow this morning. Tonight's going to be everything," he said, explaining that wind gusts will make things much more intense this evening.

"It's not done yet, that is the message."

"What we experienced this morning was a squall line. What we are expecting later is a frontal passage, which will bring, yet again, severe storms, torrential downpours, strong straight-line winds and intense hail," said Natalie Hasell, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada.

There's even the potential for a tornado to develop, she said.

"The question is 'Where?' " Hasell said. "But right now, we're looking at somewhere closer to the [U.S.] border."

Environment Canada is updating its weather alerts page for the province as the fast-moving storms rumble through.

Streets are flooded near Route 90 on Friday morning. (Submitted)

The storms rolled into Winnipeg around 8:30 a.m., first darkening the sky then animating it with bursts of lightning.

At least one house fire in the city was blamed on a lightning strike. Emergency crews were called to a two-storey home in the Bridgwater Lakes neighbourhood just before 10 a.m.

The fire was quickly brought under control by 10:30 a.m. but the home suffered significant damage to the roof and attic, according to the city's Fire Paramedic Service.

The city of Winnipeg's 311 service received over 250 calls in just over an hour in response to the storm.

As of 1:30 p.m. Friday the city received the following reports:

  • Plugged Catch Basin – Front Street: 191 
  • Plugged Catch Basin – Back Lane: 28
  • Manhole Cover Off or Ajar: 10
  • Sewer Back-up – Clean Water: 8
  • Sewer Back-up – Raw Sewage: 5
  • Damaged trees: 13

Manitoba Hydro also reported hundreds of customers were briefly without of power east of Carman, Man., after lightning struck a power line. Meanwhile, about 930 customers are without power in Winnipeg after the storm knocked down lines in Wolseley.

There are reports of several trees down in the city and many flooded, impassable streets as the city was hit with 40-60 millimetres of rain in two hours.

"And we could see another 50-60 mm of rain with this next round of storms that move through this evening," Sauder said.

The City of Winnipeg's traffic management centre noted several flooded roads littered with stalled vehicles through the morning, particularly along south Pembina Highway, near Killarney Avenue.

Drivers were being urged to avoid the area.

Crews from the fire and paramedic service were helping a number of people trapped in flooded-out cars in other parts of Winnipeg as well, a spokesperson from the city said.

"As a result of the storm, and calls for assistance, 311 is experiencing higher than normal call volumes today which is resulting in significant wait times," the spokeserson said, noting also that water and waste crews were out trying to unplug storm sewer catch basins, and dealing with sewer back-ups and manhole covers that had come off.

Some rainfall totals around the province, according to Environment Canada:

  • Elie — 55 millimetres.
  • St. Lazare — 34 mm.
  • Boissevain — 34 mm.
  • Portage la Prairie — 33 mm.
  • Brandon — 29 mm.
  • Neepawa — 27 mm.
  • Dauphin — 21 mm.

Many other places received totals in the high teens, measured in millimetres. No amounts are available yet in the southeast, where the storms were still happening as of noon.

The storms also caused flight delays at the Winnipeg airport. A lightning advisory prevented ground crews from unloading or refuelling planes, which meant they couldn't take off.

The Winnipeg Airports Authority suggests checking the website for updates.

While the storms systems should finally clear out of the province by early Saturday morning, clouds and showers are expected throughout the weekend.

Winnipeg is possibly in line for another 20-25 mm on top of whatever comes tonight, Sauder said. That could mean close to 95 mm in addition to what fell Friday morning.

Melita, in the province's southwest corner, could see another 107 mm, he said.


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