Truck plowing snow off highway

Winter Driving - What You Should Know

Highway Closures | Road Info | Traveller Info

Highway Closures

The RCMP assesses weather and highway conditions and makes the decision to close any road due to unsafe conditions and when it is safe to reopen.  Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure (MTI) works with the RCMP on road closures and reopenings.

Road Info

Winter Maintenance Facts

  • MTI maintains the 19,000-kilometre provincial highway system.
  • Road conditions depend on the changing weather.  
  • About 400 staff operate out of 46 maintenance yards across the province, and each yard has designated highways to maintain.
  • MTI operates a fleet of approximately 340 truck plows, motor graders and loaders.
  • MTI can mobilize private contractors and their snow clearing equipment if required.
  • There are service levels for various winter maintenance activities including snowplowing and ice and traction control.
  • RCMP are responsible for the decision to close a highway. Weather and highway conditions are factors in their decision to close any road due to unsafe conditions. RCMP work with Manitoba 511 to communicate that information to the public.

Service levels

All Manitoba roads are grouped into one of the following three levels for winter operations:

  • Level 1 Major Routes.
  • Level 2 Regional Highway Network - surfaced
  • Level 3 Regional Highway Network - gravel, access and service roads
  • For a  map of regional levels of service, click on links below (PDF format):

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Plowing is scheduled based on the type of road and the level of traffic on it.

Level Roadway Type Service Summary


Major routes

travel lanes plowed within four hours after end of storm


Regional highway network -- surfaced

travel lanes plowed such that surface is predominantly visible within eight hours after plowing on level 2 roads begin


Gravel, access and service roads

roads plowed only after all other higher priority roads have been done, typically within 48 hours after the end of the storm during normal working hours

Motorist safety around Snow Plows

In the winter, snow plow drivers are keeping roads clear of snow and ice, ensuring they are safe for travel. Here’s what you need to know about driving around snow plows:

  • All winter maintenance equipment has flashing blue/amber warning lights.
  • Distance: Give snow plows room to work.
  • Speed: Snow plows travel below the posted speed limit. Be patient.
  • Vision: A snow plow operator’s field of vision is restricted. You may see them, but they don’t always see you. Keep your distance, stay well back of plows, and watch for sudden stops or turns.
  • Winds can significantly delay our slow clearing operations due to drifting or blowing snow and reduced visibility for crews. If visibility is poor and compromising the safety of maintenance personnel and/or the travelling public, we will not be on the roads.
  • Always remain alert and reduce your speed when following or approaching oncoming plows.
  • Do not attempt to pass a plow in operation from behind at any time.

Manitoba Transportation and Infrastructure wants you and your family to be as informed as possible while travelling and to arrive at your destination safely. Following these tips and advice will help you prepare for winter driving.

Don’t forget: Ice and Snow, Take it Slow!

Ice and Traction Control

Sand and/or chemicals will be applied when needed.

Operations are scheduled based on the type of roadway and the level of traffic on it.

Level Roadway Type Service Summary


Major routes

as weather conditions permit; generally within four hours


Regional highway network -- surfaced

as weather conditions permit, once application begins, should receive coverage within eight hours


Gravel, access and service roads

when levels 1 and 2 have been completed and are treated during normal working hours

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Salt and Sanding

When and why we do?
  • Ice and traction control operations begin once conditions warrant application.
  • Salting occurs when black ice, frost covered roads are present.
  • When road surface temperatures are between 0 and -10*C, and the temperature is not expected to go any lower, salt is used to melt accumulated snow and ice.
  • When road surfaces are below -10* C, with colder temperatures forecasted, a salt/sand mixture is used.
  • Sand is used on hills, turns and intersections where extra traction is needed.
  • Sanding commences when temps fall below salting temperature thresholds.
When and why we don’t?

Levels of service may be reduced due to the following:

  • Limited/poor visibility for operators, compromising the safety of our maintenance personnel and/or the travelling public.
  • No salting occurs when winds are causing drifting or blowing snow.
  • Temperatures are too cold for salt to work.
  • Length of severity of a winter storm event.

Traveller Info

Winter driving in Manitoba can be challenging. Know the weather and road conditions before heading out.

Road information is updated regularly. However, due to unexpected changes in the weather, actual road conditions may vary from the reports.  You can keep up to date by visiting the websites, downloading the Manitoba 511 app, following MBGovRoads on X (Twitter) or calling 511 (toll-free).

Learn more about winter maintenance on this site and visit the driving in Manitoba page for information on drinking and driving, distracted driver, child restraints and other information related to driving in Manitoba.

These tips will help keep you safe on roads:

  • Check the weather forecast and driving conditions before travelling.
  • Delay or cancel your trip if travel is not recommended.
  • Ensure your vehicle is in good winter driving condition.
  • Completely clear all windows, mirrors and lights of snow and ice.
  • Warm up your vehicle to prevent window fogging.
  • Allow extra time for travelling.
  • Carry a winter emergency car kit.
  • If conditions worsen while driving, turn back or find a safe place to stop until the weather eases.
  • Advise people of your departure, approximate travel time and the route you are taking.


  • It takes longer to stop on roads with slush, ice or snow.
  • Bridges and overpasses can be extremely slippery even if the rest of the road is not.
  • Compared to summer, stopping a car in winter will take:
    • twice the distance on slushy surfaces
    • three times the distance on soft or loose snow
    • four times the distance on packed snow
    • up to 12 times the distance on ice-covered surfaces

Emergency Vehicles

Did you know that in Manitoba there is legislation (The Highway Traffic Act section 109.1) that regulates that when approaching and passing stopped emergency vehicles with their emergency lights activated drivers must slow down, be cautious and pass only when safe to do so? Drivers must move out of the lane that the emergency vehicle is stopped in. On multilane highways, you must move into a lane that is not next to the stopped vehicle. There are fines and/or penalties associated with violation under the act.

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