Traffic chaos hit southern and eastern Alberta today as wind and snow ripped through a large swath of the area.
The westbound lane of the Trans-Canada Highway between Calgary and Medicine Hat has been shut down by a pileup of as many as 70 vehicles. Meanwhile, overturned semi-trailers are blocking other roadways in the vicinity.
The westbound lanes of Highway 1, about 200 kilometres southeast of Calgary, were expected to be closed for several hours, RCMP said on Monday morning.
Emergency crews were directing traffic on to a detour on Highway 1A, but hoped to have both lanes opened as of 5:30 p.m. MT.
RCMP say five people were hurt, with injuries ranging from minor to serious but non-life threatening.
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"Travel on area highways is not recommended at this time due to blowing snow, icy roads and poor visibility," the RCMP said in a news release.
A reception area for stranded travellers has been set up at the Heritage Inn, located at 1217 2nd St. West, in Brooks, about 190 kilometres southeast of Calgary.
Southern Alberta and much of the province's eastern edge is facing a late winter blast with wind, snowfall and winter storm warnings blanketing the area.
Calgary is under a wind warning, with gusts up to 100 km/h expected with blowing snow.
"Damage to buildings, such as to roof shingles and windows, may occur. High winds may toss loose objects or cause tree branches to break," the alert from Environment Canada states.
Combined with the blowing snow, that could mean reduced visibility on the roads.
About 35 kilometres north of Calgary, near Airdrie, on Highway 2 an overturned semi was causing delays in both directions in the morning, while just east of Edmonton on Highway 16, a jackknifed semi was blocking all lanes around the same time.
Closures due to the weather were in place on secondary highways including in the areas of Oyen, about 300 kilometres east of Calgary and Czar, about 390 kilometres northeast of the city.
RCMP have asked drivers to avoid the QEII due to the conditions.
Winter storm warnings
Wind is the primary meteorological culprit throughout the south, but in the areas of Hanna, about 220 kilometres northeast of Calgary, and Lloydminster, about 250 kilometres east of Edmonton, winter storm warnings are in effect, while the Crowsnest Pass, about 230 kilometres south of Calgary and Kananaskis, about 85 kilometres west of the city, could see heavy snowfall.
Cypress Hills, about 360 kilometres southeast of Calgary, and the Cardston region, about 235 kilometres south of the city, are also under snow squall watches, with a combination of wind and snow that could reduce visibility to near zero.
WATCH | Trees have been blown down in Calgary, which is under a wind warning, with gusts up to 100 km/h expected
Warnings extend as far north as Fort McMurray-Fort McKay, about 500 kilometres north of Edmonton, which could see heavy snowfall.
Spring-like weather is forecast to return this week, with Calgary expected to see 13 C and Edmonton a high of 14 C on Wednesday.