Thousands without power in western Manitoba caused by spring snow storm

As snow continues to fall throughout Manitoba, the western part of the province is dealing with power outages, which at one point was impacting more than 6,000 people.

Bruce Owen, the media relations officer with Manitoba Hydro, said the weather has caused a lot of problems for most of western Manitoba and as a result an emergency outage for the Rivers, Man. area, which is just northwest of Brandon.

“We’ve got some problems with our poles in the area, obviously caused by the overnight storm and the weather today,” said Owen. “So we took an emergency outage to do some work at the substation there. The idea being that we’re hoping to get everybody up very, very shortly and correct the problem.”

Other areas, like Virden, Killarney and Boissevain are dealing with outages as the storm has caused broken poles and cross arms.

“We roughly had about 6,500 customers out. It’s down to 3,400. Now the focus, of course, is getting the staff, equipment and machinery that we need to begin to replace some of these broken poles and cross arms.”

Owen noted the affected customers range from Virden all the way to the Portage la Prairie area.

Owen said the main issue with fixing the poles, is having to find them.

“Some of them we already know, obviously. But in our travels, we’re finding more. And then as we start to fix stuff, thinking it’s fixed, we find out additional damage.”

Adding to the problem Owen said, is that in some areas where there are broken poles, there are a lot pools of water that have not absorbed into the ground yet.

“So to access, say a broken pole or a cross arm or something, we’ve got to obviously get into that ditch or get around it. So it’s the conditions are such in some areas (that aren’t) really conducive to speedy restoration, right? So just because, you know, working on water, cold water now, and then working trying to get equipment through fields that are half thawed and half frozen is a slow process.”

Once the Rivers area is dealt with, Owen said that will restore power to around 1,000 customers. For the rest of the province, he said crews will work into the evening, with the hopes power can be restored later Thursday night.

“I can’t make that promise, though. It all depends on the weather, if we get cooperation from the weather.”

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