Friday, March 31, 2017

Historic winter storm slams Manitoba March 6-10th .. Winnipeg and RRV escape worst of storm

The strongest winter storm in at least 20 years slammed Manitoba during the week of March 6th to March 10th, bringing widespread snow, high winds, and blizzard conditions to much of the province. The storm system, which originated in the western US on Sunday March 5th, crossed into North Dakota on the 6th and then tracked north across the Red River valley, with the center of the low tracking right over Winnipeg Monday evening March 6th with a deep central pressure of 978.7 mb, just 0.1 mb off the lowest pressure ever recorded in the city in the month of March. The storm then continued to intensify and track north, moving over Lake Winnipeg and then into northwest Ontario, where it would deepen to an incredible 964 mb near Big Trout Lake by Tuesday afternoon March 7th. Such a low pressure is rare for this part of the world, and is associated with only the most intense storms. And what an intense storm this was!

The massive storm brought prolonged blizzard conditions to western Manitoba March 6-7th, with powerful northwest winds gusting up to 90 km/h at times producing extensive whiteout conditions with severe blowing and drifting snow. Brandon recorded 31 straight hours of blizzard conditions beginning Monday evening before tapering off around midnight Tuesday night.  Officially, Brandon Airport reported 41 cm of snow during the 2 day blizzard, but accurate measurements were difficult due to the severe blowing and drifting  snow. The prolonged high winds led to massive drifting across Westman, with reports of 12-15 foot drifts south of Brandon that buried vehicles and structures.

The severe winter storm of March 6-7th left massive drifts across
western MB. This scene is from Crystal City area near the US border.
As the vicious storm headed north towards Hudson Bay Tuesday, it set its sights on northern Manitoba and pummelled the north with one of the worst winter storms on record there.  Churchill was particularly hard hit being exposed to 3 days of severe blizzard conditions from March 8th to 10th.. including zero visibility for 2 full days. The town was stranded for 2-3 weeks due to blocked rail lines that could not get supplies to the town. Some 40-70 cm of snow was reported in the north including 67 cm in Lynn Lake and around 60 cm in Thompson.        

1 comment:

  1. I meant to post this earlier his month but never got around to it. Probably the most significant winter storm to affect the province since the April blizzard of 1997. Luckily, Winnipeg and RRV escaped worst of it, or flood situation could have been much worse this spring..