BRUCE BUMSTEAD/BRANDON SUN
A pedestrian trudges through the snow-filled streets of Brandon on Monday afternoon.
With an ice chipper in one hand and a shovel in the other, James Goymer patiently digs around the tires of his white Purolator cube van.
Marilyn Shingoose, Jessana Shingoose-Elk and Percyne Shingoose wait for a bus during the heavy snowfall on Monday afternoon. (TIM SMITH/BRANDON SUN)
A few feet forward, a few feet backward — progress is measured in inches as Goymer rocks the unit back-and-forth in the snow.
"It’s not very nice out here today and I’ve already seen a couple of accidents," Goymer said as the snow continues to fall around him.
Surveying his back right tire, which by now is free of the snow but sitting on a patch of ice mitigating any traction he can get, a young lady approaches from the other side.
"Can I appeal to your good nature and ask you to push me out?" she asks.
Looking at her, then back to his tire, Goymer hasn’t lost his sense of humour, "Do you mind if I put you under my tires for traction?" he jokes. "Of course I’ll help."
Trudging through the snow, Goymer comes at the embedded car from the front.
"Keep your tires straight," he says, giving some last-minute advice to the lady before she jumps behind the wheel.
Gritting his teeth, with snow flying up his face from the front-wheeled sedan, Goymer pushes on the car hood freeing it from the snow drift.
"Thank you," she says.
"It’s the second vehicle I’ve pushed out today," he said as he walks back to his vehicle.
The first a senior’s van that was stuck near Riverheights Terrace.
While most see the snow as an inconvenience at best and an utter nuisance at worst, Goymer said all and all he doesn’t mind it.
"I love winter," Goymer said. "I don’t mind the cold — there’s no mosquitoes, I’m not getting sun burnt, and I’m still able to work in my sweater."
He doesn’t sugarcoat some of the things he’s seen on the road in his travels either.
"It seems this time of year when the snow comes in, people get stupid," Goymer said. "They think they can still drive and react the same way they did when the streets were bare."
Natalie Hasell, warning preparedness meteorologist with Environment Canada, said the low-pressure system that moved in Sunday night had dumped about 15 to 17 centimetres of snow on Brandon by about 5 p.m. and she expected that by midnight, when the storm was expected to clear off, another five centimetres of snow will have fallen.
"The extent of the system is quite large," Hassel said.
While the bulk of the storm was moving across North Dakota, Hasell said the northern tip of the system stretched up to about the Riding Mountain National Park/McCreary/St. Rose area and a diagonal line could be drawn from there through Winnipeg to the southeastern corner of Manitoba to get a feel for what areas were being affected.
"The areas that are being hit the hardest are in the south, near the American border," Hassell said. "Someone told me Morris had already gotten 30 centimetres of snow."
The approximately 20 cm of snow that fell on Brandon represents more than all of the snow expected in the city on average for the entire month of March (18.1 cm).
"It’s not unusually to get pretty big snow events in one day March," Hasell said. "It’s quite normal this time of year to have a lot of variability from week-to-week or even day-to-day."
She said there are things that people can do to prepare for storm systems, with one of the most important things being to ensure there is an emergency kit in your vehicle at all times.
"This certainly isn’t the end of the season, so don’t go changing your snow tires any time soon and continue to expect more of these systems," she said.
Stretches of highway all across the province were closed as tow-truck crews and RCMP were kept busy with a battery of vehicles strewn across roads and ditches.
Visibility was reduced to as little as 400 metres in some areas, according to Hasell.
The snowfall comes less than one week after the province announced its flood outlook for the Assiniboine River, calling for moderate flooding if the Red River drainage basin saw normal precipitation over the spring thaw.
"A lot of this will depend on the weather over the next period of time," Steve Ashton, Manitoba’s emergency measures minister, said at the press conference in Winnipeg. "The most significant month that we always look for in terms of moisture content, whether it’s the snow or rain … is actually in March going into April."
City plans snow clearing blitz
City crews will be working around the clock to clear streets after Mother Nature dumped a thick layer of snow across Brandon Monday.
Rod Sage, the city’s general manager of operations, said 12-hour shifts would start 12 a.m. Tuesday.
"We did have some of the equipment out (Monday)," Sage said. "We would clear a street and … two hours later, you’d never know."
Sage said they will be doing an "entire blitz of the city" over the next three days, and will be working on their usual priority based system.
Bus routes and streets adjacent to schools, churches and downtown areas are considered main priority, Sage said.
"Then we’ll get into residential streets," he said.
Garbage pickup will continue as per usual.
Scott Hildebrand, city manager, said residents may notice a delay in the time garbage is picked up over the next few days, however they plan on following the schedule as they always do.
» Brandon Sun
Republished from the Brandon Sun print edition March 5, 2013