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Plows readied as winter storm approaches Manitoba

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Meteorologists warn a severe winter storm is heading to Manitoba.

Warning preparedness meteorologist John Paul Cragg said the weather service now expects the storm system en route to Manitoba will be more intense than initially anticipated.

Southern Manitoba, including the city of Winnipeg, is under a winter storm warning.

Environment Canada said a Colorado low is poised to affect southern Manitoba and Winnipeg over the weekend, as the storm system is expected to bring 20 to 30 centimetres of snow.

Snow is expected to be the heaviest during the day Saturday, with areas near the Turtle Mountains and east of Riding Mountain National Park receiving as much as 40 centimetres.

Cragg said Environment Canada will revise its forecast to a winter storm warning, as 25 cm of snow, blowing snow and freezing rain are expected to bring near white-out conditions.

"It's starting to rev up and it's bad," he said this morning.

Storm could break records

Cragg said the storm is just starting to affect parts of Saskatchewan, and some areas have very poor visibility. He said the worst of the storm will hit Manitoba on Saturday, and treacherous conditions will affect roadways late Friday and into Saturday morning.

The snowstorm may be on track to break late-fall snow records. The largest one-day snowfall in November in Winnipeg was recorded in 1919 when 31 centimetres fell on the city.

(For the trivia buffs out there: the greatest one-day snowfall ever in Winnipeg was 38.1 centimetres on March 4, 1935, according to Environment Canada. See more snowfall stats below.)

Cragg said motorists should avoid all travel.

"Saturday itself is going to be really bad. The worst of it will hit Saturday," he said.

RCMP Cpl. Miles Hiebert said drivers should use caution and reduce their speed on roadways. If possible, he said to avoid any unnecessary travel during bad weather.

"Caution will be the word of the day," Hiebert said.

Province's plows prepared

The province’s snow-clearing crews will be out in full force this weekend, and motorists should beware.

The Infrastructure and Transportation Department issued an alert telling motorists to be on the lookout for snow-clearing equipment, warning that crews will be deployed as needed around the clock.

The Manitoba government is responsible for maintaining a 19,000-kilometre highway system.

The department reminded motorists to stay well back of snow-clearing equipment and never to pass a working plow from behind. It also advised drivers to slow down when passing approaching plows. All such equipment is equipped with flashing blue warning lights.

Manitoba Infrastructure and Transportation has a winter operations budget of more than $33 million. About $14 million is set aside for annual snow clearing.

The latest information on road conditions are available any time at 511 (toll-free), at or by following the Twitter account @MBGovRoads.

Snowfall stats

Normal November snowfall: 21.4 cm

Greatest November monthly snowfall: 80.3 cm in 1955

Greatest November one-day snowfall: 31.0 cm (Nov. 10, 1919)

Most snow on one day in Winnipeg: 38.1 cm (Mar. 4, 1935)

Most snowfall on one day anywhere in Manitoba: 76.2 cm in Dauphin (Nov. 18, 1906)

Second most snowfall on one day anywhere in Manitoba: 76 cm in Virden (April 19, 1992)

Normal annual snowfall: 110.6 cm


Top 10 daily snowfalls in Winnipeg:

38.1 cm - 4 March, 1935

35.6 cm -  4 March, 1966

33.0 cm  - 12 April, 1872

31.8 cm  -  2 Jan, 1907

31.0 cm  - 10 Nov, 1919

30.5 cm  - 26 Dec, 1916

30.5 cm  -  6 March, 1916

30.5 cm  - 9 March, 1925

29.5 cm  - 25 March, 1904

29.0 cm  - 11 May, 2004


Notable Winnipeg snowstorms:

March 3-6, 1935: 53.1 cm over four days

April 4-7, 1997: 48 cm of snow/ice pellets over four days

Nov. 7-9, 1986: 35.8 cm over three days

Dec. 30-31, 2006: 32 cm over two days.  This was the last time we had more than 20 cm of snow in one day.

-Environment Canada


Updated on Friday, November 9, 2012 at 9:33 AM CST: adds photo

9:36 AM: adds fact box

10:13 AM: Updated

3:55 PM: Updates winter storm warning, snowfall record, information from province of Manitoba.

4:25 PM: Adds storm statistics.

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