Original Published 16:11 May 04, 2022
By Sean Ledwich, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter
Frank Jewell has watched enough of The Weather Channel to know Colorado lows are the worst Winnipeg storms.Alphonso Kollie shovels the snow off his car on Victor Street. His workplace in Steinbach was shut down for the two days of the blizzard.
Jane Collins says she could have made a loaf of bread herself if the panic buyers proved to be right.
The Colorado low that brought 29 cm of snow to Winnipeg in mid-April may have shut schools and highways for two days, but it didn’t stop Frank Jewell, 82, from shovelling ten times.
The Simcoe Street house where he’s lived for 40 years has a short front sidewalk, but Jewell likes to shovel often during a storm so the snow doesn’t build up. He also clears sidewalks for two neighhbours with health issues, and another neighbour who just doesn’t like to shovel.
“The worst storm we can have is a Colorado low. Those old Alberta clippers…they come one day and they’re gone the next day, but these Colorado lows always put down a hell of a lot of snow,” said Jewell, adding that he watches a lot of The Weather Channel. He says the storm was “just about as bad” as the April 1997 blizzard that brought 48 cm to the city and set the stage for the Flood of the Century.
Retired Environment Canada meteorologist Rob Paola, who voluntarily provides the official Winnipeg snowfall measurements still used by the federal weather agency, says the storm last month did not bring high enough winds or low enough temperatures to Winnipeg to be considered a blizzard. The 29 cm snowfall from the April 13-14 storm, combined with another 9 cm dumped in the city by an Alberta clipper the following Sunday and another 3 cm arriving with the second Colorado low of April the weekend after that, brought Winnipeg’s total winter snowfall to 215 cm for the season—the third highest in 150 years and only 1.7 cm out of the number two spot. If the city were to get another 37.6 cm we would beat out the 1955-56 winter that dumped a whopping 252.6 cm on the city.
There’s still time for that, Paola says.
“We’ve had significant snowfalls in early May,” he said, citing a 2004 storm that dumped 30 cm on the city.
Anticipating Easter, Jane Collins did her shopping the Monday before the blizzard. She’d heard of some panic buying emptying bread shelves at grocery stores, but was not concerned.
“I have flour and yeast, if I needed to make a loaf of bread I could have made a loaf,” said Collins, shovelling her Home Street sidewalk just after Environment Canada ended the winter storm warning on the second day of the storm.
Collins was more concerned about what the new snow meant for the flood forecast.
“We had such a lovely, slow melt…I think the flood situation was pretty good, but I don’t know what this will do now, probably bump it back up.”
Paola measured 25 mm of water in the 29 cm of snow that fell during the mid-month storm, which he described as “pretty heavy, wet snow overall.”
The Colorado low of April 22-24 added to that moisture, bringing 70 mm of rain measured at The Forks, while almost as much, or more, fell in communities along the Red River Valley, causing the province to issue flood warnings for the Red River from Emerson to the floodway inlet and the Assiniboine River in western Manitoba. Manitobans experienced flooded basements and widespread overland flooding, and power lines downed by high winds and ice caused power outages for upwards of 20,000 homes on the Sunday of the storm. As of press time, the ring dike in St. Adolphe was closed against a rising Red River, and sandbags were being filled in communities around Manitoba, including Winnipeg, for residents trying to protect homes from rising waters. And as yet another Colorado low hit the province during the last two days of April, Morden declared a state of emergency, with streets flooded and about 50 homes facing evacuation orders.
The storm brought 45 mm of rain to Winnipeg to close out the month, making it the second wettest April in 150 years with 118.2 mm of rain.
Paola empathizes with Manitobans facing the deluge that is spring 2022, and also crosses his fingers that another spring storm does not climb Winnipeg further up the record books.
“Hopefully we don’t get (another) one this year because we’ve had our share and we’ve had enough.”
This item reprinted with permission from The Leaf, Winnipeg, Manitoba