In much of the province last week, Old Man Winter put a stop to many evening plans with a cool blast of frigid winds and blowing snow, making for undesirable driving conditions and poor visibility.
The unfortunate reminder of winter’s unpredictable nature took place on Tuesday, March 7, with heavy winds and snowfall resulting in highway traffic warnings, and for those that braved the elements, they had to be much more careful as it was difficult to see far ahead due to the blowing snow.
The system started moving in on Monday, and the blizzard-like conditions with gusty winds and near-zero visibility ended up affecting much of southeast Saskatchewan, with the intense, low-pressure system continuing to bring with it snow and strong winds all day.
Due to the weather, the Saskatchewan Highway Hotline was advising that travel was not recommended in the eastern part of the province, and some highways near Regina, Weyburn and Estevan ended up being closed. If you were driving to Manitoba that day, you were cautioned to hold off on those travel plans, as most highways in the western part of the province and the southwest as far as Winnipeg had been closed entirely.
Environment Canada says it’s not uncommon to see such harsh storms at this time of the year.
“Often the strongest storms that we see are in the springtime and in the fall because the temperatures to the south of us are getting quite warm, but we're battling the really cold arctic air to the north,” said Environment Canada Meteorologist Terri Lang.
Fellow meteorologist Mike Russo echoed those sentiments, adding that the size of the storm was eye-opening to him.
“It’s not unusual to see blizzards this time of year,” said Russo, adding this season is when the prairies sees most of its blizzards. “What was impressive about this storm actually was the size of it. It affected a huge area so a good portion of Saskatchewan and pretty much all of Manitoba.”
In the Outlook and surrounding areas, visibility on local highways was limited, but at least tolerable. However, strong and forceful winds combined with the snowfall meant for sporadic power outages, knocking out services such as internet for some, including this newspaper office.
By the time Wednesday had arrived, road crews had been out and cleared the way for morning motorists.
Weather experts said the blizzard was headed north to the arctic after making its presence certainly felt in Saskatchewan.
In something of a major twist weather-wise, conditions for the Outlook area over the next few days called for plus temperatures, ranging from +7 to +10 from Thursday to Sunday. However, as we’ve come to realize in this part of the world, we tend to take those kind of weather reports with a “believe it when we see it” attitude.