WEATHER ALERT

Looking back at the blizzard of 1966

Remembering the March 1966 storm that paralyzed Winnipeg

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On March 4, 1966, daily life in Winnipeg was brought to a halt by a monster blizzard.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 05/03/2018 (1667 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

On March 4, 1966, daily life in Winnipeg was brought to a halt by a monster blizzard.

Snow began falling just after midnight March 4. By morning, schools were closed, along with most stores and businesses.

The city was battered by 80 km/h winds that gusted up to 109 km/h, and when it was all over, there was 35.5 centimetres of snow on the ground, an amount that would not be surpassed until 43.2 centimetres piled up in April 1997.

Jack Ablett/Winnipeg Free Press Archives Winnipeg Blizzard (8) March 5, 1966 A car sits trapped right In the middle of Portage Avenue. fparchive

In howling winds and blowing snow, streets were littered with abandoned cars, trucks and transit buses. Doctors and nurses were famously ferried to work on snowmobiles.

In Westwood, there were reports of 2.4-metre drifts, while downtown 1,600 people were forced to spend the night inside the Bay and Eaton’s as hundreds more remained trapped in buses stuck on snow-covered streets. Two men died of heart attacks trying to walk home.

In the final edition of the Free Press March 4, 1966, the headline screamed: Wild Blizzard Rakes Province — Worst in History.

Drivers lost an unequal battle with drifting snow. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Traffic on Portage Avenue at Polo Park at 8:30 a.m. was barely visible. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Winnipeg Free Press Archives Determined citizens struggled against blinding blizzard conditions at a downtown intersection. fparchive
A car on Wolseley Avenue encased in snow. (Gerry Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press files)
Winnipeggers took the weather in stride... although buses may have had to search for them. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Drifts forming downtown. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
A group of Winnipeggers who spent 13 hours in bogged buses. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
A driver and passenger who spent all day and night aboard a transit bus. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
The weekend snowstorm may have brought hardship to some Winnipeg adults -- but for the younger set it meant fun and excitement. Here, a group of St. James youths use piled-up mounds of snow as landing fields as they leap off the roof of Silver Heights United Church. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
A plow clears out Hind Avenue in St. James. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
A skier traverses snow banks on Furby Street. (Gerry Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
The snow's weight was too much for one Portage Avenue marquee. (Winnipeg Free Press Archives )
Pedestrians are half hidden by a waist-high snowdrift. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Winnipeg Free Press ARchives The Bay is uncharacteristically empty as the blizzard of March 4, 1966 hits.
Portage Avenue and Donald Street at midnight (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Surveying the results of the blizzard was part of the game for pedestrians along Portage Avenue who gaped in wonderment at snow hurled high along the sidewalks. (Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Plows hard at work downtown. (Jack Ablett / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Winnipeggers, sightseers in their own city, marvelled at the enormous piles of snow... then got down to the serious business of digging themselves out. (Gerry Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
A store's sign collapsed under the weight of snow. (Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Cars abandoned, then stuck in plowed snow, along Main Street (Gerry Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Cars buried by snow. (Gerry Cairns / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
A Crescent Creamery truck stuck in snow on Memorial Boulevard (Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
A man appears perplexed about what do do with a car plowed under on Osborne Street. (Bill Rose / Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
Snow piled high along the Red River. The picture was taken near the Louis Bridge, Higgins Avenue and Stadacona Street. (Winnipeg Free Press Archives)
History

Updated on Thursday, March 4, 2021 2:41 PM CST: Updated.

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