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After affecting Alberta Friday night, Saskatchewan and Manitoba are next.

Blowing snow strands travellers on Alberta highways

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Digital writers

Saturday, December 28, 2013, 1:37 PM -

TUNE IN: Tune in on TV this weekend as we track this approaching system.

Blowing snow across Alberta Friday drove visibility down to near-zero along major highways, as snowfall, blowing snow and flash freeze warnings covered the province on Friday.

Although snowfall amounts were relatively moderate, it was the strong winds that were the problem, gusting more than 80 km/h in some places, including the city of Calgary, which was under a flash-freeze warning.

The winds made rapidly falling temperatures feel even worse. Between 3 p.m. and 9 p.m., Calgary went from 8C down to -12C, feeling like -25 with the windchill.

The strong winds made for near-white-out conditions along many highways. Alberta's transportation department listed many highways as fully or partially covered in snow, and was warning drivers to either be careful, or avoid travel altogether.

Numerous collisions were reported, and 660 News reported a section of Highway 1 at Cluny was shut down by a series of crashes that included a jack-knifed truck.

Saskatchewan, Manitoba face similar conditions

On Saturday morning, wind chill and blowing snow warnings covered significant areas of Saskatchewan and Manitoba, including the city of Winnipeg.

The Trans-Canada Highway in both provinces was listed as partially covered by Manitoba 511 and Saskatchewan Highways, as were most other highways in both provinces, while officials were warning people not to drive unless necessary.

The snow and blowing snow was due to an Alberta Clipper tracking through North Dakota, affecting a wide band of the southern Prairies through the day Saturday, with up to 15 cm falling on parts of Manitoba by Sunday morning.

Similar amounts are expected in northwestern Ontario, beginning Saturday night.

A special weather statement warning of the impending snowfall was in place for the region by Saturday morning.

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