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Blizzard-like conditions close highways, school divisions

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Strong winds have created hazardous drifting conditions on many sidewalks but the city expects to tackle them later today.

In the latest snow clearing update from the City of Winnipeg this morning, officials said plowing of sidewalks along regional and collector streets and bus routes will happen later today after the winds die down.

Crews are applying sand on regional streets where needed and plowing is continuing in exposed areas prone to drifting.

There are still no plans for a full-out plow of residential streets or bus and collector routes, however, the city says spot plowing of residential streets will occur in areas prone to drifting.

Winnipeggers weren't able to do much travelling outside of the city this morning, and a lot of Manitoba didn't have classes.

Blizzard conditions in southern Manitoba forced several highways to be closed, including the Trans-Canada west to Brandon and east just about all the way to Hadashville.

The highway to Brandon was re-opened at noon.

Highway 75 from Winnipeg to the United States border remains closed. Highway 5, from Ste. Rose. Du Lac to Neepawa is now re-opened.

So far, several divisions are reporting in that schools will be closed today: Lord Selkirk, Hanover, Border Land, Interlake, Lakeshore, Pine Creek, Turtle Mountain, Garden Valley, Prairie Rose and Seine River.

Seven Oaks has no buses running in the West St. Paul area.

In the Brandon School Division, there are no school buses running outside of Brandon, however, buses are running within the city. But Alexander O'Kelly and Spring Valley schools are closed.

Red River College advises classes in both the Peguis-Fisher River and Interlake Regional campuses are cancelled today.

Sections of the Perimeter Highway are snow-covered, and blowing snow is making for hazardous driving conditions.

The RCMP recommends that if you have to drive today, use extra caution, reduce your speed and increase your distance between other vehicles.

More than a dozen vehicles went off the south Perimeter overnight, and RCMP and the fire crew from the RM of MacDonald was busy responding. Fortunately, there were no serious injuries but vehicles remain taped off in the ditch until tow trucks can respond today.

Blizzard warnings from Environment Canada remain in Morden, Winkler, Altona, Emerson, Morris, Steinbach, St. Adolphe, Dominion City, Vita and Richer.

According to Environment Canada, a strong low-pressure system over northwestern Ontario continues to bring brisk northwesterly winds, gusting to 80 km/h, and blizzard conditions to the southern Red River Valley near the international border.

Winds will remain strong until late this morning, when visibility should improve.

In Winnipeg today, light snow and local blowing snow will end in the morning. The windwill be 50 km/h gusting to 70 and the temperature will fall to -19 C this afternoon. A wind chill of -33 is expected.

There's a low of -23 C tonight.

For Friday, look for increasing cloudiness, with snow beginning early in the afternoon. Amounts of two to four centimetre are expected. A daytime high of -9 C is in the forecast.

Saturday will be sunny, with a high of -5 C.

On Wednesday night, wicked winds were registering near 100 km/h in places like Portage la Prairie, Melita, Emerson, Gretna and Roblin.

In addition, numerous high temperature records were broken across the province for Jan. 15, including 3.3 C in Winnipeg. The old record was 2.2 C set in 1973.

Carman was the provincial 'hot spot' when the mercury rose all the way to 6 C, shattering a 15 year-old record by two degrees. And further north Swan River recorded a temperature Wednesday of 5.1 C, beating the old record of 4.4 C set way back in 1961.

History

Updated on Thursday, January 16, 2014 at 6:21 AM CST: Adds Interlake School Division closed

6:54 AM: Adds Prairie Rose school division closed

7:37 AM: Adds Border Land school division closed

7:47 AM: Adds Red River College cancellations.

7:52 AM: adds photo

9:50 AM: Updates that Highway 5, from Ste. Rose. Du Lac to Neepawa is now re-opened..

10:10 AM: Corrects typo

10:56 AM: Changes photo

11:43 AM: Adds city's plans for snow clearing.

12:11 PM: Highway 1 West to Brandon now open.

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