Winter storm slams Alberta, up to 70 vehicles pile up on Trans-Canada Highway
Traffic chaos hit southern and eastern Alberta today as wind and snow ripped through a large swath of the area.
The westbound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Medicine Hat, about 300 kilometres southeast of Cowtown as the larger centre is known, has been shut down by a pileup of as many as 70 vehicles. Meanwhile, overturned semi-trailers are blocking other roadways in the vicinity.
The westbound lanes of Highway 1, about 200 kilometres southeast of Calgary, were expected to be closed for several hours, RCMP said on Monday morning.
Emergency crews are directing traffic on to a detour on Highway 1A.
"Travel on area highways is not recommended at this time due to blowing snow, icy roads and poor visibility," the RCMP said in a news release.
It's not known whether there are any injuries at this time.
A reception area for stranded travellers has been set up at the Heritage Inn, located at 1217 2nd St. West, in Brooks, about 190 kilometres southeast of Calgary.
The westbound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Medicine Hat, about 300 kilometres southeast of Cowtown, has been shut down by a pileup of as many as 70 vehicles. (Charlotte Dumoulin/Radio Canada)
Southern Alberta and much of the province's eastern edge is facing a late winter blast with wind, snowfall and winter storm warnings blanketing the area.
WATCH BELOW: WINDS WHIP ACROSS SASKATCHEWAN, BLOWING SNOW AND REDUCING VISIBILITY
WINTER STORM WARNINGS IN SOME AREAS
Calgary is under a wind warning, with gusts up to 100 km/h expected with blowing snow.
"Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur. High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break," the alert from Environment Canada states.
Combined with the blowing snow, that could mean reduced visibility on the roads.
About 35 kilometres north of Calgary, near Airdrie, on Highway 2 an overturned semi was causing delays in both directions in the morning, while just east of Edmonton on Highway 16, a jackknifed semi was blocking all lanes around the same time.
Wind and snow whip through a street in Calgary, where winds could reach up to 100 km/h on Monday. (Justin Pennell/CBC)
Closures due to the weather were in place on secondary highways including in the areas of Oyen, about 300 kilometres east of Calgary and Czar, about 390 kilometres northeast of the city.
RCMP have asked drivers to avoid the QEII due to the conditions.
WIND IS MAIN ISSUE WITH STORM
Wind is the primary meteorological culprit throughout the south, but in the areas of Hanna, about 220 kilometres northeast of Calgary, and Lloydminster, about 250 kilometres east of Edmonton, winter storm warnings are in effect, while the Crowsnest Pass, about 230 kilometres south of Calgary and Kananaskis, about 85 kilometres west of the city, could see heavy snowfall.
Cypress Hills, about 360 kilometres southeast of Calgary, and the Cardston region, about 235 kilometres south of the city, are also under snow squall watches, with a combination of wind and snow that could reduce visibility to near zero.
Trees have been blown down in Calgary, which is under a wind warning, with gusts up to 100 km/h expected. (Helen Pike/CBC)
Warnings extend as far north as Fort McMurray-Fort McKay, about 500 kilometres north of Edmonton, which could see heavy snowfall.
Spring-like weather is forecast to return this week, with Calgary expected to see 13 C and Edmonton a high of 14 C on Wednesday.
Original story published on CBC.ca