Monday, February 09, 2009

Freezing rain turns MB roads into skating rinks

Freezing rain overnight into this morning turned roads and walkways into skating rinks today across southern MB. 5-10 mm of freezing rain fell between 4 and 8 am across the Winnipeg area, turning the morning commute into an icy mess. Hundreds of vehicles slid into ditches across MB roadways, forcing the closure of several major highways including the TransCanada and Hwy 75. Conditions gradually improved during the day as temperatures climbed to +2C.. however additional rainfall on the still cold ground resulted in extremely icy conditions on walkways and untreated roads through the day into the night.


  1. Winnipeg airport recorded 26.5 mm of rain up to midnight yesterday which would be a new February rainfall record for Winnipeg. However, this was overestimated by a good 50% thanks to an attached nipher shield. The non-shielded Forks gauge reported 13.7 mm, and I picked up 14 mm. Other unshielded gauges around the city were generally in the 10-15 mm range.. so that 26 mm is definitely an overestimation.

    Similarly, Portage reported a Nipher-assisted 38.0 mm which again is probably 50% higher than actual amounts.

    Still.. an unprecedented rainfall event for this early in the year. Still a lot of water/ice out there that is just going to refreeze once our temps get below freezing tonight into the rest of the week. I'm afraid we'll be left with a solid layer of ice for quite a while.

  2. We have had everything with this system so far~

    oh boy.... when that snow hits tonight it is gonna get ugly!

    Rob you think that the snow will stick to the ground with all this standing water everywhere???

  3. I received 13.6mm of snow and ice.

  4. Total at my place was 15.0 mm of rain/freezing rain. Solid layer of ice (about 5-10 mm thick) on walkways and driveways and it's not melting, and will only get harder with below freezing temperatures arriving tonight. I'm chipping away the ice on my driveway with an axe to rough it up, as well as adding traction gravel (can't use salt on my new patio-stone driveway laid last summer) If anyone has suggestions on ice clearing or traction tips for walkways and driveways, share them here!

    As for the snow tonight through Wednesday.. I don't think we'll see much here in Winnipeg...maybe a couple of cm. That will only slick things up more. Of greater concern is the below freezing temperatures coming in with increasing northwest winds.. that will solidify any ice/standing water around that isn't treated. With no prospects of a thaw in the foreseeable future, we're going to be stuck with this ice for a while!

  5. Some rainfall amounts from EC climate observers across southern MB over the past 36 hrs. At least 1/3 - 1/2 of each amount fell as freezing rain at the start of the event Monday morning.

    Belmont...... 11.0 mm
    Portage...... 15.4 mm
    Winnipeg..... 15.0 mm
    Wpg Forks.... 15.0 mm (est)
    Miami........ 16.4 mm
    Oakbank...... 10.8 mm
    Pinawa....... 13.0 mm
    Piney........ 20.0 mm
    St Alphonse.. 18.2 mm
    Holland...... 26.4 mm
    St Claude.... 15.9 mm
    Snowflake.... 13.4 mm

    As you can see, Winnipeg airport's 26.5+ mm is way out of line with Winnipeg area amounts, as is Portage airport's 38.0 mm. Again, this is due to the Nipher shield problem.

  6. Rob would those numbers for rainfall amounts put us close to any rainfall records for February????

  7. Really amazing to see people skating on roads! This must be extremely hard for anyone who has to drive/walk I suppose... I mean, I've never really experienced a serious freezing rain event, it's extremely rare where I live. Last time it happened was like 8 years ago, but the amount was less than 0.5mm...

    One thing I always wonder Rob, when you look at the past rain/snow stats from EC, do you know which category does the freezing rain belong to?

    Thanks in advance and I hope you don't find it very hard to clean your driveway!

  8. Hi Mikel..

    Ice storms are not uncommon over eastern Canada (Ontario and Quebec), but they're pretty rare here in the Prairies. Usually freezing rain events here are minor.. with just a little brief rain. This event was very unusual for us.. we've never had this much rain this early in February since we started keeping records in 1873. The ground is still cold which caused a lot of problems with ice not melting.. even though the air temperature rose slightly above freezing(+2C) So it was quite the unusual event, even for us. At the Winnipeg airport, it was the first time since 1986 that freezing rain shut down the airport, so it's been over 20 years since we had an ice event as significant as this one.

    In answer to your question, freezing rain is officially recorded in the "rain" column in the climate record.

    I see you guys have been having quite the stormy weather in Europe as well! Windstorms, snowstorms, heavy rain, cold,.. quite the active weather lately!

  9. Daniel..

    Winnipeg airport recorded 26.7 mm of rain in February 1998. With this event, it looks like rainfall amounts in Winnipeg were around 15 mm (despite the nipher-inflated amounts from the airport station) So unless we get more rain later in the month, we're not in record monthly rainfall territory.

    However, it's safe to say that we've never had this much rain in Winnipeg this early in the year since records started in 1873. That's quite the statistic.

  10. Hi Rob,

    Thanks for your answer! So I see it's been quite a rare event for you. Now that you speak about this events in Eastern Canada, I recall watching a documentary about the infamous ice storm of Quebec/Ontario of 98... really incredible what havoc the ice can cause!

    It seems we're all having a very dynamic winter to say the least. As you say, here we've had a bit of everything but especially the windstorms have been really damaging. The weather's being anything but boring!


  11. Rob!
    Looks like a large area of snow is forming this morning!
    Is this area of snow with the same system that gave all this rain!

    It seems like there is very little movement with the snow bands which leads me to believe that it will be with us for a while!

  12. Environment Canada insists it will snow but it just keeps missing the Winnipeg area!

    The snow forms in one spot and snow heavy and then dissipates and reappears somewhere where else.

    Forecasting where these snow bands will set up is a nightmare!

  13. Yeah.. radar loop suggests an upper low or trough over/near Winnipeg with pcpn echoes to our east going north and echoes to our west going south. I suspect we'll eventually get into the wrap around stuff to our west as the upper low slowly moves northeast.. but it won't be much.. maybe a cm or two. Note that 25-30 cm of snow was recorded in extreme southeast SK wit this event.

  14. Only 1-2 cm of snow that is a total bummer. I see fields and black dirt starting to poke out. I guess with the increase sun radiating snow will begin to evaporte pretty quickly.

  15. For the record.. here are some Winnipeg area rainfall amounts from Monday through Tuesday.

    Official EC stations..

    Winnipeg Arpt AWOS...... 29.0 mm
    Winnipeg Arpt climate... 13.5 mm
    Winnipeg Forks.......... 15.2 mm

    Private sites..

    Charleswood............. 15.0 mm
    U of W.................. 11.7 mm
    CWB downtown............ 11.7 mm
    Whyte Ridge............. 10.4 mm

    As you can see, the 29.0 mm recorded at Winnipeg Airport AWOS site is double what most other sites reported in and around the city. This shows the problem that Nipher shields have on accurate rainfall readings in the winter.