June 29, 2017

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Storms deliver a nasty present

Christmas Day travel plans stymied

Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 25/12/2009 (2742 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Grab your shovels, it's time to dig out.

Forecasters say the worst is over and the severe winter storm that walloped southern Manitoba should taper off this morning.

Snowplows get busy cleaning snow off Portage Avenue on Christmas Day. At left, Matt and Chris Jackson, Binxiang Zhao, Arthur  Buchanan, and Bob Jackson (from left) get together to play some hockey at The Forks.

Snowplows get busy cleaning snow off Portage Avenue on Christmas Day. At left, Matt and Chris Jackson, Binxiang Zhao, Arthur Buchanan, and Bob Jackson (from left) get together to play some hockey at The Forks.

The good news comes a day late for Manitobans whose Christmas Day travel plans were stymied by a blustery storm system that dumped between 10 and 20 centimetres of snow on Winnipeg and across the Red River Valley. The severe weather shut down travel past the Manitoba/U.S. border, prompted flight delays and cancellations and caused slippery road conditions that killed two Manitobans and sent many other motorists sliding into snow-packed ditches.

"It's the time of year when there's a lot of people travelling," said Environment Canada meteorologist Curtis Downie. "It's definitely bad timing."

Downie said wind gusts up to 60 kilometres per hour were to blame for the poor visibility and blowing snow that crippled road travel and left southern Manitoba under a thick blanket of snow on Christmas. He said the wind should die down today, which will improve driving conditions and allow eager Manitobans to clear out their driveways.

About 100 snowplows are digging out city streets, prioritizing main streets and arteries. City spokeswoman Michelle Bailey said crews are working to unclog main routes and sidewalks first before residential streets are cleared.

Winnipeggers won't see their back lanes cleared until Sunday and Bailey warned Winnipeggers who park their cars on snow routes the overnight parking ban will be in effect between 2 a.m. and 6 a.m. so plows can get through. Cars left on the street during those hours will be ticketed or towed.

"Everything should be cleared by end of day Sunday," Bailey said.

The blizzard-like conditions covered highways in snow and ice, making holiday travel dangerous on many major routes.

Travel advisories warned motorists to stay off some southern Manitoba highways and the weather was so frightful the main artery that runs from Winnipeg to Grand Forks and Fargo shut down early Friday morning.

The storm is being blamed for 18 deaths in several states and Downie said Manitobans should feel lucky they weren't greeted by the 40 to 50 centimetres of snow that blanketed some parts of the U.S.

"We got off pretty easy," he said.

By early afternoon, Air Canada and WestJet warned travellers arrivals and departures out of Winnipeg airport might be delayed or cancelled. Departing flights to Churchill, Flin Flon and other parts of northern Manitoba were cancelled due to bad weather, along with flights arriving from U.S. destinations such as Minneapolis and Chicago that were also pummelled by the winter storm.

Winnipeg Airports Authority spokeswoman Christine Alongi said fewer travellers had flights booked Christmas Day than earlier this week.

Vic and Anne Srutwa spent their Christmas Day waiting at the airport for their daughter, Sandy, to arrive home for the holidays from Houston, Texas.

She had a four hour-delay from a connecting flight from Houston to Denver. But the long wait didn't dampen the Winnipeg Beach couple's Christmas spirit.

"We've got Christmas dinner ready and waiting for us at home," Vic said. We're going to go home and celebrate tomorrow, and the day after, and the day after that."

This is just typical Manitoba weather, he said.

 

-- With files from Canadian Press, Carol Sanders

jen.skerritt@freepress.mb.ca shelley.cook@freepress.mb.ca

(Snow) pile of information

Here's where you can get up-to-date information on highway conditions, air travel and city streets in the blustery aftermath:

Manitoba Highways: Find out which roads are covered in snow and which ones aren't recommended for travel at 945-3704 or 1-877-MBRoads (1-877-627-6237). The information is available online.

Winnipeg snow removal: Plows are working to clear city streets and you can check to see what priority your street is at winnipeg.ca/publicworks/SnowRemoval or by calling 311.

Air travel: Flight delays, cancellations and other information is available from the Winnipeg Airports Authority information line at 987-9402 or online at waa.ca

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