High winds cause heavy damage across southwestern Manitoba

A storm that ripped through southwestern Manitoba and the Interlake Sunday left a path of destruction that tore off parts of buildings and left thousands of people without power.

Stuart Duncan, the public works manager for the southwestern municipality of Prairie View, was at his home in St-Lazare when the storm rolled in, shortly after Environment Canada issued a severe thunderstorm warning

“When you saw it coming it was almost like you could see a wall coming straight at you,” he said.

“It knocked down a half dozen trees — tried to take the roof off the house, I’d say. It pushed the soffits up underneath and tried to get in there, but the roof managed to stay on.”

A storm brought heavy rain and strong winds to southwestern Manitoba and the Interlake on Sunday. (Submitted by Chris Graham)

Other buildings did have their roofs torn off, and some grain bins were knocked down. Duncan is now beginning to assess the damage.

Environment Canada also issued a tornado watch for much of southwestern Manitoba Sunday, although no tornado sightings were reported.

Chris Graham, a photographer based in Regina, followed the storm as it moved across Saskatchewan and into Manitoba.

The most notable feature of the storm was the wind, he said.

“We noticed trees knocked over everywhere,” he said. He saw several bent highway signs, “and some were completely knocked over and in the ditch.” 

About six kilometres northwest of Foxwarren, close to the Manitoba-Saskatchewan border, Graham found a part of a grain bin that landed in the middle of a field.

Graham’s parents live in Steep Rock, on the shore of Lake Manitoba. A friend of theirs who lives on the other side of the lake recorded a wind speed reading of more than 130 kilometres per hour, Graham said.

The storm broke Hydro poles and knocked down trees, cutting off power to thousands of customers. (Submitted by Chris Graham)

There were several power outages across a wide area, affecting 4,215 customers in Foxwarren, Binscarth, Waywayseecappo, Rossburn, St-Lazare, Roblin, Greenway and Angusville, Manitoba Hydro spokesperson Bruce Owen said in an email.

Close to 500 were still without power Monday morning.

Some people in the area reported getting 55 millimetres of rain in a half hour.

Three separate power lines have broken poles, with 11 poles in total that need to be replaced, Owen said. There are also several lines down caused by fallen trees.

Hydro did not have a firm estimated time when it expects power to be restored, as it was still assessing damage.