Hope for the best, plan for the worst: Manitoba readies itself for coming blizzard
With a blizzard looming in southern Manitoba, emergency preparedness officials say the province is ready to deal with the storm.
Environment Canada has been warning a major storm set to hit parts of Southern Manitoba Tuesday evening has the potential to be the worst blizzard in decades.
Environment and Climate Change Canada is asking people to get ready for a snowy and windy week.
“I know people living in Winnipeg are resilient and tough and used to poor weather, but this is a system that we don’t often see,” Meteorologist Sara Hoffman said in an interview with CTV News. “We call it a one in 30-year event”
Hoffman says this week's snowstorm brings April on track to see similar snowfall levels to 1997.
The weather agency has warned travel will become increasingly difficult throughout the day on Wednesday, and is advising people not to travel and expect power outages.
Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said power outages are possible during the blizzard but he doesn’t know when or where outages could be.
“What we are really concerned about is if we get really, really, heavy wet snow clinging to lines in wide-open spaces,” Owen told CTV News. “That will cause us a bit of a problem.”
Johanu Botha, head of Manitoba's Emergency Management Organization, said the province has been working very closely with Manitoba Hydro in planning for this kind of event.
"We always hope for the best, but we plan for the worst," he said.
"We are well aware that, should there be power outages, that we will have to prioritize their resource to ensure that municipalities and communities can continue to function."
In terms of emergency and critical services, Botha said the province has plans in place to ensure the critical threshold of those services can continue regardless of the storm.
"These services could be impacted, but we've done everything we can to minimize the impact on them."
The Winnipeg Regional Health Authority has warned home care services could be affected over the next few days due to a forecasted blizzard.
Fisaha Unduche, executive director of hydrologic forecasting and water management with the province, said the forecast may avoid significant flooding.
With the mercury expected to remain below zero for the remainder of the week – this will allow for a slow and gradual melt.
"We know this is a significant snowstorm, but we've been through significant snowstorms many times. As Manitobans, we have experience of dealing even with storms way (more) serious than this one," said Unduche.
"Flood-wise, Manitoba rivers have capacity and our flood protections are well efficient to handle any volume that might come from this snowmelt."
But when the snow does start to fly, Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure Minister Doyle Piwnuik said staff will be out immediately following the storm to ensure major arteries are cleared within four hours. He said it is important for Manitobans to be safe and smart on the roads.
"When the RCMP states it is closing the highways, if people can stay off the highways because not only is it going to be dangerous with the blowing snow, winds, but it is also the water that is in the ditches too."
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