It started raining yesterday morning. It turned to ice pellets and sleet as the day wore on. Travel is not recommended in Southern Manitoba. By 7:00 last night, the precipitation had turned to snow - the first snow of the season. We aren't expecting a lot of snow before this storm passes by later today - maybe 15-20cm (6-8inches), but the initial layer of rain and ice will make things miserable for awhile. I'm really glad that I don't have to go anywhere for a few days! This first storm of the season also comes on the anniversary of another Manitoba blizzard....
7 November 1986, Winnipeg, Manitoba: Early major snowstorm dumps 30 cm (12 inches) on the city. Winds gust to 90 km/hr (56 mph) creating whiteout conditions. http://www.islandnet.com/~see/weather/almanac/diarynov.htm
1986 November 7 and 8 - Winter Blizzard - Length 11 hoursTemperature (Max/Min) -6 degrees c/-12 degrees c, 21 degrees f/10degreesf Amount of Snowfall 35.2 cm, 13.9 in.Wind Speed 70 km, 44 mph. http://www.winnipeg.ca/Services/CityLife/HistoryOfWinnipeg/HistoricalDates.stm#1977
November 10th, 1986: Winnipeg dug out from beneath 35.8 cm of snow left by a monster 32-hour storm that dumped 30 to 50 cm of the white stuff and created 2 m drifts in southern Manitoba and northwestern Ontario. In Winnipeg, officials pulled buses and snowplows off the roads and closed the airport. Residents used snowmobiles to navigate main arteries. http://www.mb.ec.gc.ca/air/wintersevere/events.en.html
On Friday, November 7, 1986 at 9:45AM, I caught a Grey Goose bus out to the country to visit my parents for the weekend. My mom picked me up at the depot a little before 11:00 and we drove to Winkler and Morden to have lunch and shop. We went about our day as we always did - talking, browsing for bargains and eating.
We started heading home about 3:30 or so. It was just starting to snow very lightly. The further north we went the more the snow falling and the visibility was getting low. We were about 5 miles from home when we turned on the car radio and heard that we were under a "Blizzard Warning"! The forecast had been predicting snow and the possibility of a blizzard as we were on the edge of an Alberta clipper. Alberta clipper's are notorious for creating havoc with our winter weather. Mom and I looked at each other and said "Good job we're almost home - dad will be getting worried!" Sure enough, first thing dad said was "Where the hell have you two been? Didn't you hear there's a blizzard?" We reassured him we were fine and home safe.
It snowed all night and part of Saturday. The wind was howling and whipping the snow around pretty hard. It was Sunday before the weather started to clear. Our back door faces south, as does the patio door in the living room. Both doors had snow drifts blown in almost to the top! My brother - who has a home on the same property - had to come down to shovel us out. He and dad got out the front end loader for the tractor as well as the snowblower and spent hours, clearing out the driveways to his home and my parents as well as the lane. They also had to shovel snow off the roof as it was so heavy they were worried about damage. The municipality had some of the main roads cleared by Monday, but the province was not recommending any travel until mid week unless it was an emergency.
I don't remember if we lost electricity, but if we did it was only a few hours. I had planned on going back to Winnipeg on Sunday afternoon or Monday morning at the latest. So much for that idea! We spent the time telling jokes/stories, playing games, reading, listening to the radio and watching TV. Mom and I did some baking. Dad and I played cribbage. Once the lane was clear, I also went down to my brothers house to visit with his wife and my two little nieces.
I finally took the bus back to Winnipeg on Wednesday, November 12 in the afternoon. The trip was normally about 1 1/4 hours from depot to depot. It took over two hours! I had ridden with that driver many times over the last couple of years, so we talked a lot about prairie winters and this storm in particular on the way home. The highways were actually pretty good, but once we crossed the Perimeter Highway and hit city streets... well that was another story!
The city was just starting to get back on it's feet. The streets were a mess and buses were running very slow, late and full!. They were also getting stuck on a regular basis. A normal 5 minute walk from the depot to my bus stop took at least 15 minutes as I also had a big heavy suitcase with me. When a Wolseley bus finally came, it was packed with standing room only! I was going to wait for the next bus, but the driver said I should come suitcase and all as I may be waiting 30-40 minutes for another one and it would also be full. It was Arlington before I could sit down and that was only a couple of stops from my street. I lived in an attic apartment about half a block from the bus stop at Wolseley and Ruby. Ruby had one narrow plow path down the center of the street and what amounted to a mule path on what used to be the sidewalk. It took me ten minutes to get home!
The entire trip from my parents farm to my apartment would be just under two hours in good weather but this one was 3 hours and 15 minutes! I was so glad to be home! It was the end of the week before most streets were plowed properly and into the following week before all back lanes and sidewalks were cleared.
I've never been a huge fan of winter travel. Growing up on the prairies, you see more than the average snowstorms and their aftermath. I've been storm-stayed and been in vehicles that have gotten stuck more than I care to remember! For some reason, winter storms often hit while I was travelling! Even my friendly Grey Goose driver used to joke that he had to double check the weather reports if he saw me at the depot! He wasn't sure if it was safe to travel with me!
Well, I don't do much traveling outside of the city anymore, and I've learned to keep a full pantry. That doesn't mean that I WANT a big snowfall or a blizzard, but I'm ready!
Only 5 months or so till spring...