Winnipeg Hammered By Torrential Rain; Thunderstorm Threat Continues Through Weekend

Portions of Winnipeg experienced a tremendous amount of rainfall yesterday evening as a thunderstorm developed over the southern half of the city and sat in the same spot for over an hour. While many areas in the city saw less than 10mm of rainfall, reports of localized flooding were numerous as rainfall rates that climbed as high as 300mm/h dumped between 50–80mm of rain over a small area of southwestern portions of the city.


24hr. rainfall accumulations from Thursday evening. Given that we had no significant precipitation on Wednesday in Winnipeg, this is effectively the rainfall accumulations for Thursday’s thunderstorm in Winnipeg. Amounts outside Winnipeg wiil be representative of the full 24hr. period.

The storm moved into Winnipeg around 7:15PM Thursday evening as a small thunderstorm southeast of the city near Ils Des Chene moved northwestwards toward another thunderstorm stationed over Headingly that had been warned for producing heavy rainfall in that area. By 7:40PM, the storm west of the city merged into the storm inside the city and intensified. At this point, everything stopped moving.


Flooded Roads on Sterling Lyon Parkway; Photo courtesy @shelzolkewich.

In an area roughly bounded by McGillvery Blvd., Pembina Highway and Portage Avenue, the rain simply kept coming and coming. Numerous reports started showing up under #MBstorm on Twitter. Early on it was clear that areas near Kenaston & the Sterling Lyon Parkway were being hit very hard with photos coming in showing flooded roads with water as much as just over a foot deep.

Reports began to come in of actual rainfall amounts, too. @robsobs, a very reliable source for rainfall data in SW Winnipeg (as well as the person who runs the excellent Rob’s Blog reported a peak rainfall rate of 300mm/h under the heaviest rainfall. Near the end of the event, he reported a total of 69mm that fell over the course of 2 hours:

In addition to roads being flooded, there were numerous reports of ditches & pools overflowing. The heavy rainfall also impacted one of Winnipeg’s newest and largest stores: IKEA. The IKEA on Kenaston was evacuated yesterday evening as water began pouring into the main floor of the store:

It may not have seemed like a day where severe weather was likely since skies were mostly cloudy through the day and temperatures climbed only into the mid–20’s. There was plenty of moisture building into the region, though, and many of the conditions we look for with convection were in place.


Another shot of the flooding on Sterling Lyon Parkway. Photo by @tracylkj.

While we didn’t have enough sunshine to get the storms started, a strengthening trough of low pressure laying across the Red River Valley managed to initiate storms which then fed off the abundant low-level moisture and produced just one significant storm that impacted Headingly and Winnipeg. The Winnipeg region was included in our Slight Risk area on Thursday morning.


26°C / 16°C
A mix of sun and cloud. Small chance of thunderstorms in the afternoon & overnight periods.

Today will be a warm, humid day with temperatures climbing once again to around 25–26°C and with dew points hovering in the 18–20°C range. Once again we’ll see a risk of thunderstorms develop in the afternoon as the atmosphere destabilizes. The key ingredient for today’s threat will be our daytime high. If dew points stay close to 19 or 20°C and we can get to 27°C, we’ll see a much greater chance of thunderstorms than if the dew point is closer to 18°C and we stay near 25 or 26°C. Should storms develop in the Red River Valley, they’ll see a potent environment to develop in with substantial instability aloft and CAPE values of nearly 2500J/kg. The big limiting factor in their development will be the near absence of shear. The wind will be extremely light below 500mb which will make it very difficult for storms to develop the structure required to make them long-lasting entities. As such, any storms that develop in the afternoon will likely be pulse-type storms whose main threats would be heavy rain and/or large hail.

By the evening another round of elevated convection looks to fire up and lift northwards. It may end up west of, over, or east of the Red River Valley. It’s simply too early to tell at this point. We’ll be sure to update our thoughts below as things become more clear. We’ll head to an overnight low of around 16°C tonight.

The Weekend


23°C / 14°C
A mix of sun and cloud. Chance of a shower.

23°C / 12°C
Mainly cloudy. Showers or thunderstorms likely.

We’ll see the main upper low that’s been pulling moisture northwards and setting up our instability begin to work it’s way eastwards through the Prairies this weekend. Saturday actually looks to be a fairly nice day; dew points will drop towards the mid-teens and we’ll see a slightly cooler high of around 23°C under a mixed sky. There will be a slight chance of showers as a trough swings through, but things seem stable enough that they would be fairly scattered and light. Saturday night will see some cloudy periods with a low of around 14°C.

On Sunday we’ll likely see showers and thunderstorms as the upper low moves over us. Things will destabilize under the upper low early in the day and the relatively warm, moist air mass should have little trouble supplying enough instability and moisture to get things going. No severe weather is expected. Sunday will mark the return of dryer air into the Red River Valley.


Brad lives in Winnipeg with his wife and two children and is the founder of A Weather Moment. He has loved weather from a very young age and has followed that passion through his life so far. He received a B.Sc. in Earth Sciences with Specialization in Atmospheric Sciences and is currently employed in the field of meteorology. You can find the author as WeatherInThePeg on Mastodon.

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