Manitobans had best put their shovels by the door — another heavy snowfall is expected to roll in, thanks to a low pressure system en route from the mountains in Alberta.

Manitobans had best put their shovels by the door — another heavy snowfall is expected to roll in, thanks to a low pressure system en route from the mountains in Alberta.

However, the same weather that causes traffic snarls and sore backs in Winnipeg could be good news to farmers with parched fields the last few years.

Environment Canada had issued snowfall warnings for most of southern Manitoba overnight Monday, with the southwest corner of the province, from Morden to Virden, getting a special weather statement for gusty winds and potential blizzard conditions.

David Phillips, a senior climatologist with Environment Canada, said a so-called "Prairie clipper" is expected to roll through the the province, with the hardest-hit area in the Parklands, through the Red River Valley and Winnipeg, and all the way to Lake of the Woods, Ont.

"Unlike most clippers, this one is packing a little bit more moisture than most," Phillips said Monday.

"Winds could be stronger, 90 km per hour, over smooth terrain such as frozen lakes. This snow should taper off overnight in west Manitoba and by early afternoon in the Winnipeg area."

Phillips said so far this year, Winnipeg has had 78.6 centimetres of snow dumped on it, compared to 55.2 cm at this time last year and 101.1 cm up until this time during the winter of 2019-20.

The average snowfall at this point is 59.9 cm.

Environment Canada was predicting Winnipeg will get 10-15 cm of snow beginning sometime late Monday through Tuesday morning.

The heaviest was expected to be in the Parklands region, where more than 20 cm was forecast.

Many farmers in Manitoba have been battling drought conditions in recent years, with reduced yields and the need to find water to help thirsty livestock.

John Heard, a soil fertility expert with Manitoba Agriculture, said he expects the coming snow, and the moisture that has already dropped this winter, will help those producers.

"The only thing more important than fertilizer is water," said Heard.

"They are delighted with what they have received. Few fields are bare this year. The farmers left the stubble standing so the snow wouldn’t blow off into the ditches. Most of the snow is staying put where they need it."

<p>JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES</p><p>Winnipeg has had 78.6 centimetres of snow dumped on it, compared to 55.2 cm at this time last year and 101.1 cm up until this time during the winter of 2019-20.</p>

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS FILES

Winnipeg has had 78.6 centimetres of snow dumped on it, compared to 55.2 cm at this time last year and 101.1 cm up until this time during the winter of 2019-20.

Heard said, usually, the soil underneath would have frozen solid, leading to much of the spring’s melting snow running off the fields. But not this year.

"The soil was dry when they froze up, so there should be voids to allow (water) percolation in," he said. "But it’s not just storing water in the soil. We need a lot of water in dugouts and ponds for cattle."

Graham Schellenberg, a spokesman for Keystone Agricultural Producers, said farmers will also need more help from Mother Nature than just snow.

"We need a slow thaw," he said. "We need this moisture to melt and to soak in.

"The snow we have and which is coming is good to see, but it is the long-term game we’re looking at."

At Morden, where there are still voluntary water restrictions for residents, Mayor Brandon Burley said the snow will help get more water into the lake on the west side of the community, which is its main source of water.

"I can’t imagine it would hurt," Burley said. "It would be a bad situation if there wasn’t snow on the ice."

Burley said the community of roughly 9,000 has been hard at work finding and connecting into other sources of water, including Pembina Valley Water Co-operative, as well as looking for ways to conserve water.

"It is cheaper for us to replace every toilet and water fixture in the city than to build excess capacity in water and waste," the mayor said, adding it is already building in water retention systems for indoor ice rinks and outdoor splash pads and rinks.

In Winnipeg, an army of heavy equipment, including plows for streets and smaller ones for sidewalks, is ready and prepared to roll out.

Michael Cantor, manager of streets maintenance, said about 200 to 300 pieces of snow-clearing equipment are ready to go shortly after the expected snow begins falling Monday.

"We will wait for some snow to come down first — we’ll be ready for that," said Cantor. "We don’t want to plow when there is no snow on the street."

Cantor said truck plows will go out first on to the major streets, to quickly clear the way, with large plows coming once even more snow has fallen.

"It will be an interesting few days," he said. "It will be at least two to three days dealing with priority streets and sidewalks.

"This year, we haven’t got a lot of snow but what we get is coming all the time. We just finished one and now comes another."

Meanwhile, both the Winnipeg Regional Health Authority and Southern Health issued statements warning the weather could see delays and cancellations of home care appointments in the next few days.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

Kevin Rollason

Kevin Rollason
Reporter

Kevin Rollason is one of the more versatile reporters at the Winnipeg Free Press. Whether it is covering city hall, the law courts, or general reporting, Rollason can be counted on to not only answer the 5 Ws — Who, What, When, Where and Why — but to do it in an interesting and accessible way for readers.