Up to 90 cm of snow fell in Norway House and Gods Lake Narrows Monday, likely a new Manitoba record for single-day snowfall.
The numbers aren’t official, but people have called in the 90 cm count — which Natalie Hasell, a warning preparedness meterologist with Environment Canada, says appears to beat out a 76.2 cm one-day snowfall in Dauphin for Manitoba’s record.
Regardless, it was a lot of snow.
“Snow drifts up to five and six feet tall — taller than the average person, here,” said Hasell.
A wide band of central and northern Manitoba was hit, but other communities only saw one or two feet of snow at once —still enough to count for a record.
“Highways were closed up north — the idea that you have snow drifts that are six feet tall is quite amazing,” Hasell said.
To compare, the biggest one-day snowfall Norway House has on record was just 25.4 cm in 1975 — about a third of what fell Monday. Winnipeg beats that by a bit, with a one-day dump of 38.1 cm March 4, 1935.
Norway House has only ever recorded 96 cm of snow on the ground at one time.
“A snowfall for Norway House of 60-90 cm didn’t happen, for the period (we have recorded),” Hasell said. “These amounts of snow for a 24-hour period is really quite significant.”
People in the small community — an eight-hour drive north of Winnipeg — went a little further.
”It was crazy,” said Norway House business owner Sheryl Apetagon. “Everything was shut down. Everybody’s getting stuck all over.”
The clouds set in a few days ago, but on Monday the snow started falling hard, said town resident Florence Keam.
“Just lots and lots of snow,” she laughed. “It was unbelievable. I’ve never seen anything like that. I mean, we’ve had storms before — but nothing that big.”
The school was closed, as were several businesses.
“Most of the trucks, the 4x4s, were getting around — that’s about it. But they had a hard time, too,” Keam said.
While the snow was falling, it was raining on Winnipeg.
More snow a-coming
Hasell says that more freezing rain — and more snow warnings — are coming, soon.
“The next low pressure is developing as we speak and it should be through Manitoba by tomorrow,” Hasell said.
“When we’re looking at these forecast amounts now, 10-20 cm — it’s not quite what we had over the last little while. But what this warning doesn’t tell you is if the wind’s just strong enough, it will be a risk of blowing snow,” she said.
Northern Manitoba will be hardest-hit, but the warning extends south to Tadoule Lake and Lac Brochet.
“So it’s not the end — it’s clearly an active season already.”
Hasell advised Manitobans planning on motoring in the next couple days to ensure they’ve packed an emergency kit.
Their warning this time was bang-on, but she advised telling people where and when you’re travelling, ensuring you have a cell phone charger, and visiting http://www.getprepared.gc.ca to get tips on packing for emergencies.
“Maybe they took the kit out this summer for camping gear and forgot to put it back in,” Hasell said. “Now is the time to remember!”
Unofficial snowfall totals for Monday, Dec. 3, 2012:
- Norway House 60-90 cm
- Gods Lake Narrows 60-90 cm
- Island Lake 60 cm
- Oxford House 45 cm
- Cross Lake 30-40 cm
- Gillam 35 cm
- Grand Rapids 30 cm
- The Pas 30 cm
- Mafeking 23 cm
Top 10 snowfall records:
- 76.2 cm in Dauphin on Nov. 18, 1906
- 76 cm in Virden on April 19, 1992
- 71.1 cm in Minnedosa on Feb. 12, 1938
- 70 cm in Dugald on Feb. 4, 1984
- 66 cm in Gretna on Jan. 21, 1899
- 65.5 cm in Deerwood, March 14, 1971
- 65 cm in Rivers, Feb. 26, 1969
- 63.5 cm in Souris, Feb. 26, 1969
- 61 cm in York Factory on April 27, 1914
- 61 cm in Minnedosa, April 15, 1924
Three of northern Manitoba’s biggest snowfalls:
- Thompson: 45.7 cm on Oct. 6, 1970
- Flin Flon: 39.4 cm on April 29, 1973
- The Pas: 39.3 cm on March 21, 1962
— Source: Environment Canada