Winter storm shuts down highways and schools in southern Alberta

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Drivers were urged to stay home on Sunday, as heavy snow and strong winds shut down multiple highways in southern Alberta.

Winter storm warnings were in place for the southern and eastern parts of the province, including Crowsnest Pass to Lethbridge to Medicine Hat.

Many students had a snow day to look forward to on Monday.

In Lethbridge, the school division said it wouldn't be safe to operate buses on Monday so both in-person and at-home classes were cancelled. University of Lethbridge and Lethbridge College also moved all classes online for the day, and urged students and staff to avoid coming to campus unless absolutely necessary.

Westwinds School Division, which serves 4,500 students in 13 southern Alberta schools, also declared a snow day.

More than 20 to 40 centimetres of snow were expected in some areas of the province, along with northerly winds gusting 50 to 80 km/h that were creating sudden whiteout conditions, Environment Canada cautioned.

"AVOID ALL TRAVEL in the affected areas until conditions improve, particularly in the areas south and east of Highway 1, and south of Highway 3," 511 Alberta, the traveller information service operated by the provincial government, said in an advisory posted to its website shortly before 2 p.m. Sunday.

Multiple highway closures were in place due to either poor conditions or multi-vehicle crashes, including:

  • Highway 41 in the Oyen and Consort area.

  • Highway 9 in the Oyen area.

  • Highway 3 between Lethbridge and Coalhurst.

  • Highway 5 north of Cardston.

  • Highway 505 between Highway 2 and Highway 5.

  • Highway 1 has been closed east of the Alberta border to Swift Current, Sask.

Speed was reduced on Highway 25 between Highway 526 and Highway 521 due to deteriorating conditions.

Lethbridge police said at 2:15 p.m. that driving conditions within the city were poor and that only essential travel was recommended.

In Waterton, Parks Canada closed the entire Akamina Parkway due to heavy snow.

An up-to-date list of weather alerts is available on Environment Canada's website.