Manitobans scramble to prepare for early onslaught of winter weather

Start wearing layers – it’s about to get ugly in southern Manitoba, with strong wind and a mix of rain and snow expected over the next few days.

Snowfall warnings are in place in parts of western Manitoba, including the Minnedosa and Dauphin areas, which could see between 10-15 cm of the white stuff Wednesday.

Winnipeg could get more than 10 cm over Thursday and Friday, mixed with some rain.

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“The general trend is that a Colorado Low system is going to be moving towards northwestern Ontario and affecting southern Manitoba into Thursday night, Friday and perhaps part of the weekend,” said Environment Canada’s Dan Kulak.

“Right now, the rain/snow boundary looks to be right around the Winnipeg area, maybe going back and forth a couple of times, with a greater probability of snowfall further west of the Red River Valley.”

Environment Canada issued a special weather statement for southern Manitoba Wednesday, saying a cold front from Saskatchewan would bring rain and snow, including snowfall warnings for the Parkland region.

A Colorado Low will bring in snow for southwest Manitoba, including Winnipeg, on Thursday.

“However, exact position and timing of the transition is still uncertain, so the precipitation amounts and type in the forecast may change as the system develops,” read the statement.

Local businesses are seeing the scramble. One parent told Global News they tried to buy winter boots yesterday for her son, only to be turned away at two different shoe stores.

“They didn’t really have their Sorels stock in yet,” she said.

Tire stores are also seeing a last-minute surge.

“I can certainly confirm that the threat of snow has caused people to scramble to get their vehicles winterized,” said Fort Street Fountain Tire Assistant Manager Joe Robichaud.

“While there are a relatively small number of people who have been trickling in, the majority seem to be in denial until the last minute … I would say that the number of booking requests and snow tire inquiries has tripled from what we would normal see at this time of year.”

Chris Sigurdson of Interlake Roofing told 680 CJOB there’s a rush to get jobs done before the winter comes.

“Hopefully this Colorado Low’s not going to stick around very long. We’ve got a bunch of jobs lined up, so we’re going to keep plugging away until the weather turns to -15 or so,” said Sigurdson.

“As long as it’s not too cold, we’re gonna keep givin’er, but the snow does make it difficult, obviously, to get stuff done.”

There’s a feeling of urgency when it comes to roadworks and construction projects that are already underway, too.

Chris Lorenc of the Manitoba Heavy Construction Association said the industry always tries to plan ahead for bad weather, but that it’s never welcome at this time of year.

“This is the time of the season where we’re finishing up projects and trying to make sure that all of the work is completed, so this is bad news for us,” he said.

“We can still pour and put concrete down and put asphalt down around the +/- 2C, but if the ground freezes, then it’s a showstopper.

“If the ground freezes, you can’t pour concrete, because it won’t cure. Essentially you’re pouring concrete over an ice cube.”

Lorenc said he prefers to be ‘optimistic and pragmatic’ in believing there will be some days where the weather is forgiving enough to complete the work.

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The City of Winnipeg said in a statement that their equipment is ready and waiting for the snowfall.

“Crews will be monitoring road conditions and have salting operations in a ready-to-deploy status. Any accumulations of snow will be monitored and further decisions will be made as the weather system passes through the city.

“Motorists are reminded to drive to road conditions at all times and to use extreme caution when driving near heavy equipment.”

It’s not all doom and gloom, however. Kulak said we should expect more typical fall weather after this initial blast of cold.

“We’re not looking at the onset of the ice age for the winter this time around,” he said.

“I think there’s certainly potential for some warmer weather. We get into the 7-10 day time frame and some of the indications are that we’ll be, basically, back into a nice fall weather pattern… at least for a little bit.”

© 2019 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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