Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Deep freeze continues to disrupt

Shuts down schools, delays garbage pickup

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A cyclist makes his way along Arlington Street on Sunday morning while temperatures hovered around -37 C, with a wind chill of -51.

MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS Enlarge Image

A cyclist makes his way along Arlington Street on Sunday morning while temperatures hovered around -37 C, with a wind chill of -51. Photo Store

Closed schools, late garbage pick-up, parking bans and discouraged skaters.

Manitoba's relentless stretch of ultra-frigidly cold weather is causing significant inconvenience.

In the southwestern corner of the province, the Manitoba Teachers' Society says the Virden-area Fort la Bosse School Division has decided to close all schools today.

Meanwhile, Brandon School Division will not operate buses outside the city, transportation supervisor Ron Harkness said Sunday. All Brandon School Division schools are open, and buses will be running within the city of Brandon, he said. Attendance at schools is at parental discretion, but BSD asks parents to call the school if their kids are staying home.

More school divisions, especially in rural Manitoba, may also close schools or cancel bus services today.

On Sunday, plowing crews continued to work on Winnipeg's rutted, slippery streets, while Emterra crews tried to catch up with a serious backlog of garbage and recycling pick-up.

Most major roads had been scraped Sunday night and the city cancelled an extended snow route parking ban. The regular wintertime snow route parking ban is still in effect. Sanding trucks worked to improve traction and slippery intersections earned special attention from graders and loaders. Sidewalk and lane clearing is also underway.

Residential streets are next. A residential parking ban began Sunday evening, meaning motorists must take care to avoid parking in the path of plows. Motorists who park on residential streets should get to know their neighbourhood's snow zone letter and check online or by calling 311 to find out when plows are planning to arrive.

Meanwhile, 24-hour garbage collection was slated to wrap up Sunday after crews fell badly behind due to the cold weather's effects on trucks and workers as well as the recent blast of snow.

In Winnipeg, where it was -37 C on Sunday morning with a wind chill that made it feel like -51 C, the weather kept people away from outdoor skating rinks.

Roy Laham, owner of Iceland Skate Rentals at The Forks, said he had about 20 customers on Sunday. That compared to a typical weekend day where he said he would see 200 to 300 people.

"Just the die-hards are coming out. They're all bundled up but they're skating," Laham said. "If they're continuously moving, the body seems to stay warm. It's just the skin that's exposed that you have to be careful about."

Environment Canada warned dangerous wind chills of -45 to -50 will continue today across much of Manitoba. That means frostbite to exposed skin can occur in five to 10 minutes.

Winnipeg recorded its coldest December in 80 years, and became a minor Twitter sensation when it was revealed the city was colder than Mars. The deep freeze that seems to have lasted a month could finally break Thursday, when Environment Canada is forecasting a positively tropical high of -11 C.

Manitoba infrastructure and transportation is reporting snow-covered and snow-packed highways across the province, with many highways experiencing blowing snow. Updated information is at http://wfp.to/8Qa.

-- Nick Martin, Mary Agnes Welch and The Canadian Press

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition January 6, 2014 A4

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