Storm chaser stranded overnight in blizzard, his story here
Digital News Reporter
Wednesday, March 8, 2017, 4:02 PM - As blizzard conditions continue to slam parts of Manitoba, many highways remain closed, particularly in the west near the Saskatchewan border, though most highways in and around Winnipeg are cleared.
The conditions left many motorists stranded in minus 30 windchill with limited fuel, including a member of Canada's Prairie Storm Chasers, Sean Schofer, who made it out of the vicious storm after being stuck on the Trans-Canada Highway for nearly 20 hours.
Schofer was just outside of Brandon on Monday when conditions started to deteriorate. The resident of Melville, Sask., was on his way home from an event in Columbus, Ohio.
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"I knew the storm was going to happen and we actually planned on staying overnight in Brandon, but things were going a little slow at first," Schofer told The Weather Network. "We thought we would drive an extra half an hour to Virden. We made it about 10 minutes outside of Brandon and within seconds it went from a little bit of rain to total zero visibility."
Schofer was stuck behind an accident that involved five tractor-trailers when the highway was shutdown. He was stranded from 4 p.m. Monday until about noon on Tuesday.
While the well-seasoned storm chaser said he is typically prepared for severe weather, this time around he was not. Schofer had water, food, booster cables and a few blankets, but no emergency kit.
"I guess Murphy's Law kicked in this time," he said. "I wasn't expecting it because I was on the road for two weeks before in the U.S. So, we weren't prepared for this."
"We were lucky enough, we actually had plenty of water and some food with us, but when you're in a situation like that, you're on survival mode and you don't even feel like eating," he told The Weather Network. "That was the last thing on my mind. My mind was just, 'how are we going to keep warm and survive this?'"
To preserve fuel, Schofer would turn on his vehicle for about 10 minutes every hour and then turn it off. Winds were gusting to 90 km/h at times, so most people stayed inside their vehicles, the storm chaser noted.
"I couldn't see the vehicle parked two feet in front of me, that's how bad the visibility was," he said. "I've seen a lot of blizzards being from the Prairies, but this was by far the worst one I think I've ever seen."
On Tuesday morning, firefighters from the Rural Municipality of Whitehead managed to rescue several drivers, including Schofer.
"They came on snowmobiles with fuel. They topped us up and brought in a plow because there were 4-foot snowdrifts beside us," he said. "They plowed it out so we were able to drive into town, which was only two or three miles away."
Schofer was sent to Alexander School where he remains in the gymnasium with about 100 others. Community members have provided mattresses, food and water.
"It's unbelievable seeing all of these people step up to the plate here."
Blizzard warnings remain in effect across Saskatchewan and Manitoba, with very strong northwest winds creating localized whiteouts. Conditions will start to improve overnight into Wednesday morning, according to Environment Canada.
"This is a major storm system. Highway closures and power outages are likely," the weather agency said Tuesday evening. "The public is advised to postpone travel in western Manitoba, eastern Saskatchewan and northern Manitoba until the storm passes."