Clem Culley had been shovelling drifting snow on his Winnipeg sidewalk for an hour Wednesday. He said he had another hour to go and he plans on doing it all over again Thursday.
“It’s crazy, but that’s Winnipeg for you,” laughed Mr. Culley.
The Manitoba capital was inundated with snow on Wednesday, while howling winds made visibility – and shovelling – an enormous challenge in a city well-accustomed to winter weather, even when it hits in April.
Much of southern and central Manitoba remains under a storm advisory, according to Environment Canada, and wind gusts of up to 70 kilometres an hour are expected with snowfall accumulation anywhere between 30 and 50 centimetres.
While the temperature in Winnipeg on Wednesday afternoon wasn’t particularly frigid – it was around 0 C – most people struggled to make their way around the city if they decided to brave the storm. But not Ryan Watt. He was taking a leisurely stroll to his resource-assistance group where people can go to check job boards and search for employment. Even in the blizzard-like conditions, he had an iced coffee, taking slow strides. He said he was enjoying the weather, but others? Not so much.
“I feel sorry for that woman,” Mr. Watt said as he pointed to a woman, somehow manoeuvring her way through deep snow on the sidewalk across the street, dragging a large stroller behind her.
“It makes me feel sad, but what can you do?”
Other people are banding together to help each other during what could be a “historic” storm.
Some elders, vulnerable people and those whose health is compromised have been moved from some communities to Winnipeg, said Grand Chief Jerry Daniels, of the Southern Chiefs’ Organizations. It is a pre-emptive measure in case there are power outages, leaving those individuals at home without the resources they need. Mr. Daniels said most communities are fully prepared for the several days of forecasted winter weather.
“They really stocked up to prepare for this,” he said.
Manitoba Hydro said it is still watching for freezing rain and high winds that could damage power lines, particularly in rural areas. As of Wednesday afternoon, there were 13 localized outages affecting more than 900 customers.
RCMP Sergeant Paul Manaigre said most highways in southern Manitoba are either closed or about to be closed. He said there are bound to be people out on the highways, at risk of ending up in the ditch, and it will be difficult for emergency services to reach them, especially because the weather conditions are expected to worsen and intensify until finally clearing up Friday. He said the safety of first responders is important as well.
“If they don’t have to be out responding to calls of stranded motorists, that’s the bonus here. We want to keep these people safe as well,” said Sgt. Manaigre, a media relations officer.
He urged people who need to be out on the road to make sure they have the proper equipment for safety and security. But “hopefully people stay home,” he said.
The provincial government has urged all Manitobans not to travel. Many businesses and organizations are staying closed, and all metro Winnipeg schools and in-school child-care centres are shuttered for the rest of the week in anticipation of the blizzard. While the storm was expected to ease up a little later on Wednesday, it was expected to intensify again overnight.
Our Morning Update and Evening Update newsletters are written by Globe editors, giving you a concise summary of the day’s most important headlines. Sign up today.