A Snowmageddon Thanksgiving

October 21, 2019

Although the weather forecasts predicted it, none of us could fathom what came our way.  After all, many weather forecasts have been off all summer.  It turns out that this freak winter storm left most of southern Manitoba stranded over the Canadian Thanksgiving weekend.  Although many were without Hydro, it brought out the good in so many.



Harvest While Possible


Thursday, October 10th, I was still out helping with potato harvest.  Farmers were out full throttle in an attempt to get as much done as possible before the impending storm.  The work day for the seasonal workers ended around supper time.  The rain had started some time ago already and all the equipment on the farm needed to be moved to get started on a new bin.


Harvest the following day (Friday, October 11th) was called off.  The rain had turned into snow over night.  I went for a drive to check out the accumulation of the snow on the diggers and in nature in the morning.  It was coming down steady and the snow was heavy and wet due to the mild temperatures. 


The rest of Friday I stayed home.  Weather reports continued to report worsening conditions and the mayor of Winnipeg urged employers to let staff go home early as this Colorado low continued to pound Manitoba.





Digging Out of Snowmageddon


Although I was quite aware of how much it had continued to snow all of Friday, I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked out the window on Saturday morning!  "Holy Shit" was all I could say as I looked out the window in the morning.  In my whole time in Canada I couldn't remember ever receiving that much snow in one snowfall.


It appeared that the worst of the storm had hit overnight and was now slowly moving out.  Mid morning we started to dig ourselves out.  This involved blazing a trail to the shed in hip deep snow at times.  The world looked beautiful in its own way, but that was a LOT of snow!









Manitoba Declares a State of Emergency


Most of southern and central Manitoba ended up without hydro through this storm, leaving over 50000 customers without power.  Due to this and the extensive damage of the hydro infrastructure a state of emergency was declared.  Highways remained closed to give priority to Hydro and Manitoba Infrastructure Personnel to get the job done of clearing roads and restoring hydro.


To read more about the damage left behind by this early winter storm, you can check out the following articles:

Thousands face evacuations as Manitoba calls state of emergency after snowstorm downs power lines

Storm damage to hydro system could cost record $100M or more, Manitoba Hydro says


As I write this, the Manitoba Hydro website states that there are still 1443 customers without power.



Manitoba's Resilience


Although this will be a Thanksgiving that no one will soon forget, Manitoba pulled through strong and grateful on so many levels.  Although the conditions were far from ideal, everyone reached out to someone to help make things work as best as they could. 


Through all this, Manitobans helped each other in many ways.  It was amazing to hear how Hydro workers were accommodated and looked after.  I heard of Hutterite Colonies providing food for workers and others.  Although there was no power and many people did not have cash on hand, stores opened to the public to help out as much as they could, some even extending credit in some cases.  Many shared homes and supplies with others.  These are just a few things and you can read some of the local stories here.


Once we were dug out on Saturday, it took another day for the grater to come by to clear the roads.  All the same, an offering was put out there for anyone that needed help in any way.  If we needed to, we could get there by tractor to help.  Living in the country, and being farmers, it seems that we were a little more prepared for this kind of situation in some ways. 



Happy Thanksgiving


Although this storm threw most plans for Thanksgiving gatherings and meals completely off track, there was (and still is) much to be thankful for.  I'm grateful for everyone that worked hard to get hydro and infrastructure up and going again.  The loss of these conveniences really pointed out how much we take them for granted.  We are truly blessed to have so much!  Thanks for everyone that helped someone in some way.  There are many everyday heroes out there that never get any recognition because they just do what they do. 


Above and beyond all that and more, I'm so grateful for my family.  As they were without hydro at home, I had the privilege of spending a couple of days with them on the farm.



A Week Later


Just over a week later, most of the snow has melted.  Aside from some raw memories, and remaining snow monsters (hunks of snow on the side of the road), not much remains of the winter storm that hit Manitoba over Thanksgiving weekend.


Here are some pictures captured over the last week after the storm.










©Sigrid Sauereisen 2019

All images are my own

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