Thursday, November 28th 2019, 9:07 am - Last time storm caused closure was nearly two decades ago, town official says
A winter storm information alert was issued Wednesday evening, warning travellers to turn back if they're headed to the Canada-U.S. border crossing at Coutts, Alta. and Sweet Grass, Mont.
The border crossing was closed at 6:30 p.m. Highway 4 remains open in Canada, but travel is not recommended, while the I-15 is closed from the border to Shelby, Mont., where multiple vehicles have slid off the highway.
A file photo shows a snowy highway in northern Alberta. The Canada-U.S. border crossing in southern Alberta, at Coutts, has been closed due to a snowstorm. (Chelsey Renee/Facebook)
"If you come to U.S. Customs, they're turning you back," said Lori Rolfe, the Village of Coutts' chief administrative officer. "We have lots of snow and lots of blowing so visibility is not great."
Rolfe said the closure was extremely unusual — the last time she recalls a similar incident was in 2000.
A highway camera in Montana shows near white-out conditions near Sweet Grass, Mont., at 7:50 p.m. Wednesday. (MDT Travel Info)
The village of 250 residents has filled its bed and breakfast and its motel with stranded travellers, and has opened an emergency centre at 105 Centre Ave. to welcome others who might need a place to stay.
Alberta Emergency Alert is cautioning travellers to stay off the roads between Milk River and Coutts.
A winter storm warning is also in place for the area, with snowfall expected to possibly exceed 50 centimetres on the Canadian side of the border and gusty winds bringing visibility down to zero.
The snowfall is expected to peter out Thursday afternoon, Environment Canada said.
Across the border, the U.S. National Weather Service cautioned that snow could accumulate by as much as 70 centimetres.
This article was originally published on CBC.ca by Sarah Rieger