The Manitoba Emergency Measures Organization (EMO) advises people living in eastern Manitoba to take safety precautions in the aftermath of the season’s first winter storm and the ongoing power outages in many communities.
Manitobans with recreational properties are also advised not to travel to the Whiteshell area this long weekend due to poor road conditions and widespread power outages.
Environment Canada reports 15 to 30 centimetres of heavy, wet snow has fallen in some areas, with gusting winds creating poor visibility and dangerous winter conditions. The winter storm warning was lifted early this morning, as the storm moves into northwest Ontario.
An additional two to 10 centimetres can be expected throughout southeast Manitoba today before the intensity of the storm eases later in the afternoon.
Manitoba Hydro reports ice has caused trees to fall on hydro lines. More than 120 hydro poles are down in the area around Piney in southeast Manitoba. There is also significant damage in the Whiteshell area. Power outages may be expected in the Whiteshell and Piney areas into the weekend. Additional communities in southeast Manitoba have also been affected by this power outage.
Poor winter road conditions are making it difficult for hydro workers to get in to affected areas and begin fixing power lines. Municipal crews are assisting hydro crews by clearing roads.
An additional 150 Manitoba Hydro personnel from Winnipeg, Brandon and the Interlake area are now in the affected area to help crews replace damaged hydro poles and hydro lines.
MTS crews and technicians are working to maintain service in more than 80 locations affected by power outages in eastern Manitoba.
While there have been some intermittent telephone and wireless service interruptions overnight and this morning due to power interruptions, MTS has maintained service to most communities using backup generators and battery power.
Landline services are currently not operating in the communities of Jessica Lake, Vassar, Marchand, Richer, Hadashville, Vita, Woodridge, Menisino, Little Grand Rapids and Paungassi due to extended hydro power failure and difficulties with MTS technicians accessing the locations. Customers are advised that telecommunication services may continue to be intermittent in the eastern region due to ongoing hydro power interruptions.
At this time, hospitals and personal-care homes in the affected areas are operating on alternative power sources and no movement of patients is anticipated.
When there is a storm-related power outage, Manitobans are reminded to:
not use fuel-burning equipment indoors that is not connected to a chimney or vent as this can lead to high levels of carbon monoxide;
turn off all electrical appliances and unplug electronic equipment to protect it from power surges when power is restored;
keep one light plugged in and turned on to show when power is returned; and
turn off the main breaker if leaving the home during the power outage to protect it if power is restored while you are away.
Safety precautions during an ice storm include:
paying attention to branches or wires that could break and fall due to the weight of ice;
watching overhead power lines when crossing under them for ice buildup which may result in reduced clearances;
never touching downed power lines, as hanging lines could be charged (live);
avoiding over-exertion when shovelling wet, heavy snow;
avoiding driving, as even a small amount of freezing rain can make roads extremely slippery; and
waiting several hours after freezing rain ends so road maintenance crews have enough time to spread sand or salt on icy roads.
Motorists are advised to check for road closures before heading out. The latest information on road conditions is available anytime at 511 (toll-free), at www.mb511.ca or by following the Twitter account @MBGovRoads.