Winter's unexpected encore this week dumped more snow on Winnipeg in 49 hours than fell on the city in any single month during its regularly scheduled appearance.

Winter's unexpected encore this week dumped more snow on Winnipeg in 49 hours than fell on the city in any single month during its regularly scheduled appearance.

Cumulative snowfall, April 12-13

Sprague: 18.7 cm
Brandon: 14.4 cm
Gimli: 13.1 cm

Sprague: 18.7 cm
Brandon: 14.4 cm
Gimli: 13.1 cm
Roblin: 11.4 cm
Wasagaming: 11.1 cm
Morden: 8.6 cm
Carman: 8.0 cm
Portage la Prairie: 7.9 cm
Carberry: 7.0 cm
Emerson: 3.6 cm
Melita: 3.4 cm
Flin Flon 0.0 cm (10.0 cm April 11)

Source: Environment Canada

One weather station recorded 31 centimetres of snow following Monday and Tuesday’s storm; others marked between 20 and 25.

For people with mobility issues, such as Peter Tonge, who uses a wheelchair, the conditions meant a sudden and unwelcome — albeit temporary — end to the freedom of movement and spontaneity he had been enjoying in warm spring weather.

"It really closes me in," said Tonge, explaining that buried sidewalks and streets can force those with mobility challenges to stay indoors, preventing them from doing errands able-bodied people take for granted. He relies on Transit Plus, which requires booking rides two days in advance.

"Even in my powerchair, with this really wet snow, I suspect it wouldn’t be able to go very far."

"Even in my powerchair, with this really wet snow, I suspect it wouldn’t be able to go very far," Peter Tonge said.

JOHN WOODS / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

"Even in my powerchair, with this really wet snow, I suspect it wouldn’t be able to go very far," Peter Tonge said.

Manitoba League of Persons with Disabilities accessibility services co-ordinator Rosalie Best uses a wheelchair and is well-acquainted with Tonge's frustrations.

"I know that I tried to avoid looking outside as long as possible on Monday," said Best. "I wouldn’t look. It’s disheartening."

Downtown resident Allen Mankewich is also a wheelchair user and understands the ups and downs of living in Winnipeg, but he said the city could do a better job communicating plans to clear city sidewalks.

Relax, Winnipeg – this snow is a good thing

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MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS						</p>																	<p>A motorist scrapes his windshield on Tuesday morning in Winnipeg.						</p>
MIKE DEAL / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

A motorist scrapes his windshield on Tuesday morning in Winnipeg.

Posted: 7:00 PM Apr. 14, 2021

Here in the city, it’s a safe bet that most winter-weary Winnipeggers view this week’s three-day spring flurry-a-thon as a seasonal soul-crusher. A soggy-gloved meteorological slap in the face. A heartbreaking return to Manitoba’s least-beloved season, accompanied by a layer of white whose wet, sticky weight carries an inordinate cardiac-catastrophe potential for those who still possess the resolve to shovel it, rather than waiting impatiently for it to melt.

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But the snow has its fans.

"Farmers, growers, gardeners, ranchers — they’ve got smiles on their faces," said David Phillips, senior climatologist for Environment Canada. "Farmers could not have ordered a better system than this one."

Drought has seized southern Manitoba in the last year-and-a-half. What the province needed, Phillips said, was slow, percolating moisture to help crops and plants spring up.

That’s exactly what this snow will provide when it melts — which won’t take long, he said, predicting all but the biggest drifts, sculpted by winds that hit 44 km/h, should be a memory by Saturday.

Daytime highs of 3 C Thursday, 4 C Friday and 10 C Saturday, combined with ground heat retained from the early thaw, mean spring will be back in a hurry.

"That snow’s going to be assaulted from below. It’s going to be assaulted from above," he said.

The snowfall amount is short of Winnipeg’s worst April storm — a dubious honour belonging to the 1997 blizzard. Nearly 50 centimetres of the white stuff fuelled that year’s historic Flood of the Century.

Ilya Pidwinski, three, helps shovel snow in Tuxedo on Tuesday.

MIKAELA MACKENZIE / WINNIPEG FREE PRESS

Ilya Pidwinski, three, helps shovel snow in Tuxedo on Tuesday.

Phillips said there’s no risk of flooding like that this year because ground conditions are very different.

The thawed soil will better sop up moisture into the water table and prevent too much runoff into the rivers. And precipitation up to this point has been very low.

The storm also provides good news for campers. On Tuesday, the Manitoba Wildfire Service lifted all fire bans throughout southwestern Manitoba. The province had imposed bans shortly after grass fires tore through fields near Carberry, forcing about 20 people to temporarily evacuate their homes.

fpcity@freepress.mb.ca