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Winter wallops Calgary and southern Alberta

Calgary Herald logo Calgary Herald 2018-02-08 Sammy Hudes & David Blackwell

The weather warnings were right: 10 to 18 centimetres of snow fell on Calgary and area overnight, slowing travel to a crawl and looking likely to smash a 130-year-old snowfall record, according to Environment Canada.

The region remains under a winter storm warning, with snowfall accumulations up to 35 centimetres expected across much of the region, with up to 50 cm expected in areas of the foothills and mountain parks.

“An area of heavy snow currently from Grande Cache to Medicine Hat will slump southward today bringing heavy snowfall to all of southern Alberta,” Environment Canada said in its early morning forecast. The storm will taper off this evening, it said.

Those accumulations would be enough to shatter the previous records, the greatest recorded snowfall on this date is 19.3 cm in 1888. The most snow on the ground was 23 cm in 1978, Environment Canada said.

Calgary Police say there were 100 collisions between 4 p.m. Wednesday and 4 a.m. Thursday, five of which resulted in injuries.

Despite the storm, Calgary Board of Education schools will be open as usual on Thursday and yellow school buses service will be running.

Students and everyone else using public transit can expect a slower journey to their destinations Thursday.

Some bus routes are running behind schedule and detours are in effect, according to Calgary Transit. On the CTrain, Blue Line commuters were stuck waiting upwards of 45 minutes during the morning rush due to a power issue, however Calgary Transit says regular service has now been restored with trains running 10 minutes apart.

The TransCanada Highway has been closed in both directions from the Alberta border to west of Revelstoke, B.C. as crews conduct avalanche control. Parks Canada avalanche control work caused an avalanche to bury the access road to Sunshine Village on Thursday morning, delaying the ski resort’s opening.

The access road has now been cleared, and traffic is getting through to Sunshine Village, said the resort in a tweet.

Numerous morning flights from Calgary International Airport were cancelled Thursday, including flights to Vancouver, Victoria, Saskatoon, Fort McMurray, Edmonton, Kelowna and Lethbridge.

Once the snow ends, it’s likely that Calgarians will be required to move their vehicles off of snow routes during the weekend, said the city.

“We kind of have to see what the weather does because, obviously, we don’t want to jump the gun in case Mother Nature does us a favour,” said city roads spokesman Chris McGeachy. “At this point, yeah, it’s looking likely that we could call (a snow route parking ban).”

Depending on how much snow falls, the ban could come Friday or Saturday, as it would start 24 hours after the snow stops falling. McGeachy said city crews were out laying gravel on major routes Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the snowy conditions.

The city’s first snow route parking ban in nearly a year was lifted Wednesday at 7 a.m., more than a full day before it was scheduled to end, as such bans can last up to 72 hours.

Since the parking ban began Monday morning, a total of 2,945 tickets were issued to those whose vehicles remained parked on designated snow routes, which are marked by blue signs with a white snowflake.

The fine for violating the ban is $75. However, this falls to $40 if the ticket is paid within 10 days. It costs $50 if the ticket is paid within 30 days.

The overall message from Calgary police, dealing with scores of accidents connected to the snowfall, was: slow down. Police put the message in a rhyme posted on Twitter.

 

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