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Blizzards

Emergency Response Guidelines


A blizzard is a winter storm characterized by strong winds, significant wind chill, and poor visibility due to blowing snow. Environment and Climate Change Canada uses the following general criteria for issuing blizzard warnings:

  • Strong winds reaching 40 km/h or greater
  • Visibility of less than 1 km
  • Cold temperatures
  • Conditions lasting longer than 4 hours

Blizzards, which can last for days, can create a variety of dangerous conditions. Heavy snowfall and whiteout conditions can make travel difficult to impossible. Exposure to low wind chill values caused by strong winds and cold temperatures can result in frostbite and/or hypothermia, both of which pose risks to health and safety of students, faculty, and staff.

Secondary conditions that can results from blizzards are power outages, falling trees/branches broken off due to the high winds and/or accumulation of heavy snow, frozen water pipes due to the cold temperatures, and flooding from melting snow.

BLIZZARD PREPAREDNESS AND SAFETY

AT HOME OR IN UNIVERSITY RESIDENCES

Students, faculty, and staff should not venture out in a blizzard. They should stay in their homes/residences. Depending on the amount of snowfall, travel within the City of Winnipeg could be hampered and highways in the rural areas could be closed. As there will be early warnings of an oncoming blizzard, basic emergency kits should be checked to ensure that the contents are current.

ON CAMPUS

Students, faculty, and staff who find themselves stranded at the University should remain inside until the storm subsides. Advise Security of your location and number of persons seeking shelter in that area.

IN VEHICLES

If you are traveling in a vehicle and are unable to make it to your home or residence, or that of family member or friend, you should seek safe shelter in a public place such as a hotel/motel, a restaurant, a mall or other business. When traveling in the winter months you should:

  • Have your vehicle fully checked and winterized.
  • Keep your fuel tank near full.
  • Carry a cell phone.
  • Try not to travel alone.
  • Let family or friends know your timetable for travel.

When traveling during the winter months it is recommended that you carry an emergency car kit.

If you do find yourself stranded in your vehicle the following recommendations will aid in your survival:

  • Stay with your vehicle.
  • Use your cell phone to advise emergency services of your location. Note: they may not be able to respond to your location until the storm subsides.
  • Run your vehicle sparingly — approximately 10 minutes per hour.
  • Ensure that the tail pipe is not blocked.
  • Open a window on the leeward side for fresh air and to avoid carbon monoxide poisoning.
  • Make yourself visible by turning on the lights at night when the engine is running, tying a coloured cloth to your antenna, raising the hood of your vehicle once the storm has passed.

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