Looking back: Winnipeg’s Blizzard of 1997
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The worst storm in Manitoba history virtually shut Winnipeg down on the weekend of April 5 to 7, 1997, closing the airport, shopping centres, all surrounding highways and knocking out hydro and phone service in some areas.
The storm began around 4 p.m. on Saturday, and before it was over it dumped nearly 50 centimetres of snow on the city.
“We don’t have any other storms that beat it. We’ve beat all kinds of records,” Environment Canada meterologist Michel Bisson said at the time.
The storm set records for most precipitation in a 24-hour period — including the legendary March 1966 blizzard with at 25.6 cm and the November 1986 blizzard, with 35 cm of snow — and records for the worst April storm since Environment Canada began keeping records in 1876.
The blizzard fell on top of twice the normal accumulation of winter snow — more than 1.5 metres around Winnipeg, and as much as 2.5 metres along the upper reaches of the Red River.
The new snowfall was the equivalent of almost nine centimetres of water on the landscape — enough to raise the Red by four feet — resulting in a flood like no living Manitoban had ever seen.