Storm damages power lines around Manitoba

·4 min read

Manitoba Hydro says the spring storm that pounded southern Manitoba with both rain and snow over the weekend has left a trail of damage and power outages in some areas, and it could take days to clean up the mess and get power restored to some homes.

“The weekend a lot of people were hit with a big double-whammy,” Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said Monday morning, after a weekend storm brought three days of heavy rains, snow and high winds to parts of southern Manitoba.

According to Owen, in some parts of southwestern Manitoba, including in and around the city of Dauphin and in the Riding Mountain National Park area, multiple power lines were damaged, leaving many in the area without power at different points throughout the weekend.

“We saw that huge dump of rain and then we saw almost a mini-blizzard and the dropping of temperatures, with the worst of it in that southwestern region,” Owen said.

“That rain fell on power lines, and when temperatures dropped we saw as much as an inch or more of ice on those lines which adds weight, and with that and the high winds lines snap and poles snap, and that’s what happened.”

Owen said that as of Monday morning approximately 15,000 Manitobans had dealt with power outages over the weekend as a result of the storm, and that some of them were still without power.

He said because the damage is so widespread in some areas, Hydro wouldn’t give a timeline on Monday of when all homes can expect to have power restored.

“At this point we just can’t do that with any sort of accuracy, once we get into those areas and see the extent of the damage we will have a better idea, but some might still be without power for a while,” Owen said.

This weekend’s storm came just one week after another three-day snowstorm pounded the same region and much of southern Manitoba, and both recent spring storms are being blamed on Colorado Lows that made their way into the province for two straight weekends.

Christian Laughland, the Mayor of the southwestern Manitoba city of Dauphin, said on Monday that during the worst of the outages over the weekend he estimates that as many as 75% of homes in the community of about 8,500 residents were without power.

“I don’t think it would have been as bad if it hadn’t rained and then started to snow, but once the ice got on those lines and weighed down the lines it became a big problem,” Laughland said.

As of Monday afternoon he said he believed that about 25% of residents might still be without power in the city, and he added there are several homes without power in the surrounding rural areas.

Laughland said he also heard over the weekend about long stretches of rural highway in the area where people had seen extensive damage to hydro polls.

Despite the wet and snowy weather and power being knocked out for many, Laughland said the community came together over the weekend, and people helped each other out during the worst of the storm.

“Dauphin is a tight-knit community and people really check in on their neighbors and their relatives and on the elderly, so people pulled together, which is what we expected,” he said.

With all the precipitation that has fallen recently, Laughland said he is also worried about the possibility of temperatures warming up too quickly, as he doesn’t want to now see flooding in the community.

“It’s not an issue yet, but that could change if it gets warm,” Laughland said “And as we’ve seen lately things can change pretty quickly.”

The aftermath of the weekend storm also forced a number of school divisions to cancel bus services and some to cancel classes on Monday, as the Garden Valley and Evergreen School Divisions both closed all schools on Monday, while there were school closures and cancelled bus services in other divisions including in the Prairie Rose, Beautiful Plains and Portage la Prarie School Divisions.

— Dave Baxter is a Local Journalism Initiative reporter who works out of the Winnipeg Sun. The Local Journalism Initiative is funded by the Government of Canada.

Dave Baxter, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Winnipeg Sun

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