Sask. begins clean up after major winter storm

·3 min read
Sask. begins clean up after major winter storm
The storm twisted a highway sign near Pilot Butte, about 20 kilometres east of Regina. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada windy weather is expected to continue in the southeast corner of the province until late afternoon. (Glenn Reid/CBC - image credit)
The storm twisted a highway sign near Pilot Butte, about 20 kilometres east of Regina. According to Environment and Climate Change Canada windy weather is expected to continue in the southeast corner of the province until late afternoon. (Glenn Reid/CBC - image credit)

People across Saskatchewan were picking up the pieces after a major storm pummelled the province.

As of noon Tuesday, all highways had reopened after many, including the Trans Canada Highway and sections of HIghway 11, closed due to the wintry storm on Monday.

The RCMP Saskatchewan Crime Watch Advisory Network pleaded with drivers to stay home on Monday night. As of 7 p.m. CST, RCMP in Swift Current, about 245 kilometres west of Regina, were on the scene of a collision involving several semi-tractor trailer units on Highway 1, just west of the 11th Avenue NW Exit.

RCMP had blocked off all approaching traffic along the west-bound lanes of Highway 1, leaving several drivers stranded.

WATCH | Winter storm brings white-out conditions:

Power outages

The storm also caused damage to SaskPower lines. As of 8 p.m. Monday night, there had been 130 outages resulting in 14,500 customers without power across the province.

By Tuesday afternoon, most homes had their power restored.

People in the regions of Eatonia, about 430 kilometres northwest of Regina, and Elrose, about 325 kilometres northwest of the capital, were expected to have their power restored by noon.

However, there was no restoration time yet for people living around Macklin, Luseland and Primate, about 500 kilometres, 450 kilometres and 490 kilometres northwest of Regina respectively.

Former MLA Jason Dearborn, who lives on a farm near Eatonia, said his power went out about 9:30 a.m. Monday and remained off overnight.

"It's a very large house and we've closed off a lot of the rooms, but it's getting very, very chilly now," he said.

"We were down in the basement and it was a little warmer down there."

He admitted to being frustrated at the length of the outage.

"I understand that this was an outstanding storm, and I also understand that workers can only handle so much," said Dearborn.

"But I also know that I live in one of the wealthiest countries in the world and it's not acceptable to me to be without electricity for 20 hours."

Dearborn said a potential solution to rural outages could be more buried power lines. He said lines on his farm are now underground, and it would make sense for connecting lines in rural areas to follow suit.

"In my mind, this would be a much better set of infrastructure priorities than some of the other things that money has been spent on," he said.

"We're not going through the Canadian Shield. Put it underground, bury it. It's good forever."

Dearborn said winds were incredibly strong on Monday and part of the roof of a tin shed ripped off. As well, his front door was blocked by a three-foot-high snow drift.

Weather woes

According to Environment and Climate Change Canada meteorologist Terri Lang, winds were expected to start easing Tuesday morning for most of the province. However, windy weather was expected to continue in the southeast corner of the province until late afternoon.

While many people were caught off guard by the quick change of weather, Lang said it's relatively common for warm spring weather to turn ugly quickly.

"The sun is warmer, it's getting higher in the sky, we can feel the warmth when we're sitting outside or in the car, but there's still that cold air lurking to the north," she said.

"When you get a good clash of those two, that's when we can get these really powerful storms."

On Monday, Environment and Climate Change Canada recorded wind gusts as high as 120 km/h in Swift Current, about 245 kilometres west of Regina.

Even though temperatures are expected to climb into the double digits later this week, the meteorologist is concerned wintry weather may not be over in Saskatchewan.

"Don't take the snow tires off quite yet," said Lang.

"I'm still worried that there might be another one coming down the pipe."