Manitoba storm could be ‘worst blizzard in decades,’ says Environment Canada | CBC News

A major spring snowstorm is “poised to pummel” southern Manitoba for three days this week and has the potential to be the worst storm in decades, says Environment Canada.

In an updated storm watch on Monday, the weather agency said widespread snowfall of 12 to 20 inches is expected, along with northerly winds gusting to 45 to 56 mph, sometimes giving zero visibility.

CBC Manitoba Meteorologist John Sauder says Winnipeg could get lucky and see slightly smaller amounts, around 24-45 cm.

However, to put that in context, Winnipeg typically averages 50 inches of snow over the course of a winter, so 18 inches would be nearly a third of an entire season’s snowfall.

“This will rival the storm of 1997, when Winnipeg scooped 19 inches of snow,” Sauder said. “Sometimes I use the term ‘crippling city storm’ and I think this has the potential to be that.

“So yeah, this could be one of those storms where we see the city shut down and the stores close. Road trips? Completely forget about it.”

Much higher amounts, possibly approaching 80 cm, could be seen in the higher ground of western Manitoba and the western Red River Valley, Environment Canada’s storm watch said.

Although things should improve until Good Friday, temperatures won’t be warm enough to start melting the snow drift. A maximum of -5 C is forecast for Friday and -1 on Saturday. The normal daytime high for this time of year is 9 C.

“But by that time, I think things will start to open up, as far as plowing goes,” Sauder said. “It will take a couple of days, but maybe by Sunday we will travel again.”

If it’s any consolation, having a storm this time of year is not unusual. Last year, on April 12 and 13, Winnipeg was hit with 9 inches of snow, Sauder said.

“We got through it okay. That one wasn’t very windy, but still.”

The system, a Colorado minimum, is on track to reach the province starting Tuesday night and will last through Friday before heading to northwestern Ontario.

It will begin near the US border Tuesday night as the system moves into Minnesota and continue to move north.

By Wednesday morning, heavy snow will fall from southeastern Saskatchewan through most of southern Manitoba, Environment Canada forecasts.

“Travel will become increasingly difficult as Wednesday progresses, with widespread road closures almost certain,” says Environment Canada’s weather alert.

“By Wednesday night, even travel within communities may become impossible as heavy snow and high winds continue. And expect more of the same on Thursday.”

Do not plan to travel and stock up on necessary supplies and medications now, the alert says.

“This storm has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades,” he says.

Power outages are likely and rural areas in particular should be prepared for prolonged outages.

Conditions should start to improve on Friday as winds die down and heavier snow moves east, “although the cleanup after this storm will likely last well into next week,” says Environment Canada.

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