People in southern Manitoba are walking through puddles as spring thaw continues after one of the snowiest winters on record—but that’s nothing compared to 25 years ago.
In April 1997, the roads and streets were as wet as they are now. Warmer weather was starting to wash away the snow cover for the past four months, giving way to the anticipation of patios and parks.
A Colorado Low had other plans for Manitoba.
On April 5 of that year the snow returned and intensified rapidly, closing the Red River Valley to white for 24 hours, forcing people to abandon vehicles and enter airports, offices and even shopping centers. I was forced to sleep.
look | Winnipegers cleaning up after Blizzard 1997:
Over the next 24 hours, the storm dropped to 48 cm over Winnipeg and 50 cm in other locations.
The previous record-keeping blizzard in Manitoba hit the province in 1966 and was 38.1 centimeters lower than that.
During the 1997 hurricane, snowmobilers patrolled the streets to transport front-line health workers and aid in rescue.
Front-end loaders and plows were assigned to the ambulance to clear the way through the drift.
After about a week of February-like cold, the mild spring temperatures returned. Snow on the roof of the Sears warehouse in Winnipeg became wet and heavy, power lines were snapped and caves collapsed.
Warmer weather set the stage for floods of the century, as runoff from melting snow exceeded normal spring levels at more than double.
As the Red River broke its banks and spread across the valley of the Red River, roads and fields were flooded. On 23 April, the province ordered a mass evacuation of communities in the floodplain.
Thousands of Manitobans were driven out of their communities by the military as they marched toward Winnipeg, Steinbach and Selkirk – nowhere to be flooded.
That flood caused more than $500 million in damage. A total of 28,000 people who had to be relocated temporarily were left with the experience recorded forever in their memories.