Winter storm wallops Alberta, Saskatchewan, up to 40 cm of snow reported
Tuesday, December 3, 2013, 1:26 -
STORM WATCH: We continue to track this storm as it moves through the region. Tune in on TV for updates.
School closures, cancelled flights and dangerous whiteout conditions on the roads.
Parts of western Canada continue to feel the effects of a nasty winter storm.
An intense system which began in northwestern Alberta on Saturday has brought heavy snow and blizzard conditions to parts of Alberta and Saskatchewan.
Blizzard, snowfall and winter storm warnings stretched across much of Alberta on Monday.
Between 10-15 cm of snow had fallen in places like Calgary and Edmonton by Monday night, while Red Deer picked up closer to 20 cm through the day.
"In Pincher Creek 40 cm of snow has already been reported, with more on the way tonight," Environment Canada said in a statement late Monday.
In addition to the heavy snow, strong northerly winds of 60 km/h, gusting to 80 km/h, have reduced visibilities and resulted in treacherous conditions on the roads.
The Highways Department closed the Trans-Canada Highway from Calgary to Brooks on Monday night due to dangerous conditions and warned drivers to find shelter for the night. The highway remained closed early Tuesday.
Police say even snow removal equipment is off the road in the area as conditions are not safe for the operators.
The communities of Chestermere and Strathmore east of Calgary both opened emergency reception centres for stranded drivers.
Calgary Mayor Naheed Nenshi tweeted Monday urging residents to stay home if they could. He added that if Calgarians had to be on the roads, they should allow extra time.
I have to go into work today -- darn #yyccc meeting -- but if you are able to work from home, please do.— Naheed Nenshi (@nenshi) December 2, 2013
A travel warning was also issued for the Trans-Canada Highway from Swift Current to the Alberta border because of reduced visibility due to drifting snow and icy sections.
Drivers also reported freezing rain and icy conditions north of Moose Jaw.
About 100 flights in and out of the Calgary International Airport were cancelled on Monday, due to the blizzard conditions.
Poor visibility caused most of the cancellations, along with long delays for those that did manage to eventually get off the tarmac.
Officials say baggage delivery was also affected and travelers are being urged to check the status of their flight before heading to the airport Tuesday.
SCHOOL BUS CANCELLATIONS/CLOSURES
Several bus cancellations and school closures were reported across southern and central Alberta on Monday with more cancellations expected Tuesday as well.
The Calgary public and Catholic school boards cancelled buses Tuesday morning and parents across the province are being asked to make alternate arrangements in case the bus is late or doesn't arrive at all.
WHAT'S LEFT TO COME?
An additional five centimetres of snow is possible in some places before the snow tapers to flurries Tuesday night.
"Conditions will gradually improve across Alberta and Saskatchewan through the day on Tuesday," says Weather Network meteorologist Monica Vaswani. "Still, strong winds are expected to continue Tuesday, which means any snow that has fallen will be blowing around."
The strong northerly winds also signal the arrival of a very cold Arctic airmass.
"Cold Arctic air will rush in behind this system with daytime highs near the minus 20s forecast across Alberta and Saskatchewan for the rest of this week," Vaswani adds.
BLIZZARD AND WINTER STORM WARNING CRITERIA
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With files from The Canadian Press