A massive winter storm dumped up to 40 centimetres of snow on Calgary and at least 70 centimetres in other parts of southern Alberta, causing cancelled flights and chaos on the roads with dozens of collisions and stuck cars and buses.
Roads in Calgary were a slippery mess Tuesday morning and sidewalks were blanketed in shin-deep snow.
Environment Canada says total accumulations in Calgary ranged from 20 to 40 centimetres. West of the city in Kananaskis Country, accumulations of as much as 70 centimetres were reported in some places.
The snowfall was expected to taper off through the day on Tuesday, said Environment Canada meteorologist Blaine Lowry.
"What we're dealing with now is some gusting northerly winds, so 30 kilometre an hour winds with gusts up to 50 out of the north are causing reduced visibility in the area of the Calgary airport with visibility at three quarters of a mile," he said.
Blowing snow reduced the Trans-Canada Highway to single lane traffic in spots near Canmore, as the snowfall and winter storm warnings persisted all through southern Alberta and well into the central region of the province.
According to Calgary police, from 6 a.m. to about 10 a.m., there were 10 non-injury collisions and two that resulted in injuries. And from 5 p.m. on Monday as the storm began, until about 6 a.m. Tuesday, there were 44 non-injury collisions, 10 collisions that resulted in injuries and nine hit and runs.
Calgary's transportation department tweeted about numerous stalled and stuck vehicles on city roads.
"Right now, our crews are focused on high volume, priority one routes. And we'll continue focusing on those routes," said city roads spokesperson Chris McGeachy.
"It's all hands on deck and we thank people for their patience as we work to get the roads in good condition."
He said the city has 59 sanders and 12 graders out clearing the snow, plus four additional contracted graders that were called in to assist.
Calgary Transit is warned that its buses were struggling to get through the snow-clogged streets.
"All routes are running behind schedule. We will keep you up to date with all changes as they come. Thank you for your patience," Calgary Transit tweeted.
"Please be patient and give yourself extra travel time."
The storm started off the coast of British Columbia, walloped the B.C. Interior and then moved through the southern part of Alberta starting Monday.
Highway sections reduced to single lanes, flights affected
Environment Canada said the snowfall and winter storm warnings that were issued on Monday remained in effect Tuesday morning all through southern Alberta and well into the central region of the province.
"Heavy snow will continue to fall over the region this morning before ending north to south this afternoon," the agency said of the Calgary area.
An additional two to four centimetres of snow could fall in areas near Red Deer, and as much as 10 more centimetres is forecast for areas around Calgary before it tapers off later on Tuesday.
Environment Canada said motorists should consider postponing non-essential travel. In some areas south of Calgary, wind gusts up to 80 km/h are expected to produce blowing snow until late Tuesday afternoon.
RCMP are warning motorists to avoid travel on Highway 40 in Kananaskis Country west of Calgary.
"Road conditions are extremely poor due to accumulating snow and poor visibility," a release said.
Canmore RCMP also advised against non-essential travel on Highway 1 west from Exit 114 to the Banff Park gates, saying road conditions are poor with single-lane traffic in both directions as road crews work on clearing drifting and blowing snow.
The Calgary International Airport is warning travellers that the storm could affect flights and that they should check with airlines on departure and arrivals times and leave extra time to get to the airport. A couple of arriving flights had to be diverted to Edmonton on Monday night because of the snow, the airport said.
WestJet said it had made 35 cancellations as of about 10:30 a.m. on Tuesday.
Calgary Fire Department spokesperson Carol Henke says it's important to remember, when shovelling snow around a home to get it away from the fresh air intake so that carbon monoxide doesn't build up inside. It's also vital to have working carbon monoxide alarms, she said.
Storm moving east
Brittain said the storm system is expected to move through Saskatchewan and Manitoba later on Tuesday and reach Ontario by Wednesday.
"So it's kind of like this gift from Mother Nature, if you will, for folks hoping for a white Christmas," he said.
Calgarian Williams Chirinos, who was out shovelling to make room on the street to park his vehicle, said he really didn't mind the snow.
"Actually I feel quite well, because I think we need to have a white Christmas," he said. "It's OK, no big deal."
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