Heavy snowfall results in over 100 crashes in the City of Calgary
It has been a terrible time for drivers on the road in Calgary over the past 24 hours after a heavy snowstorm resulted in slippery and treacherous conditions everywhere in the city.
Calgary police were called to 127 crashes between 5:00 p.m. and 5:00 a.m. and there were injuries in 18 of those incidents.
One couple drove 10 hours from Saskatoon to try and get home to Calgary on Saturday. They started to see the storm get really bad when they reached Hanna but by then it was too late.
“We finally made it to Beiseker … we needed gas [but] they were out of power there because of the storm. By the time we got there, we couldn’t get gas, we just had to keep going through the whiteout,” said Carson Erdman.
When they were about 10 minutes from home, they ended up slipping on Stoney Trail and got stuck in the snow.
“We actually got stuck on the road and we just couldn’t move. We managed to slide over to the side of the road,” said Ashley Wood.
They say the situation was “terrifying” especially because of all the big vehicles trying to maintain their speed going up the hill. However, they both made it and are in good spirits now.
“Two days ago she decided to get her winter tires taken off and put her summers on. That was great. A little unlucky,” Erdman mused.
Tara Norton-Merrin, spokesperson for Calgary Roads, says crews were able to get ready for the storm because it wasn’t a complete surprise to them.
“We did have a lot of our trucks ready to go and loaded up with salt. So when the snow started to fall on Saturday, we had all the crews on standby start working on the major routes; the Priority 1 routes like Glenmore Trail and Macleod Trail.”
She says they were also fortunate because the pavement was still quite warm from the seasonal weather and that helped melt some of the falling snow.
“The salt worked really well and we were able to get the snow up off the road.”
The drive on area highways wasn’t much better, with one incident at Jumping Pound involving four semi tractor-trailer units and 11 vehicles.
Cochrane RCMP also responded to the scene of a bus crash at about 6:00 p.m. on Highway 1 east of Highway 22.
The bus, with 15 occupants inside, was heading eastbound on the highway when it crashed into a ditch and rolled over.
Several of the people inside the vehicle were taken to hospital with minor to serious but non-life-threatening injuries.
Police are investigating the crash but believe extreme weather conditions are to blame. No charges are expected to be laid.
Glechen and Chestermere RCMP also said several dozen semi tractor-trailers had pulled over to the side of the Trans-Canada Highway east of the city while several more had jack knifed on the route, blocking traffic.
No injuries were reported in those incidents.
Flights at YYC Calgary International Airport were also disrupted because of the weather. Reports say 49 flights were cancelled and five needed to be diverted to Vancouver or Edmonton.
City officials have also announced that spring clean up operations have been suspended because of the snowfall.
"Between 10 to 15 cm of snow fell in Calgary last night and into this morning. As a result, our road crews have resumed winter operations; using graders and plows to clear the main routes,” said Bill Biensch, road maintenance manager in a release.
Residential neighbourhoods that have not been cleaned up will have the work rescheduled to a later date.
The spring clean up is scheduled to wrap up by June 1.
The Calgary Police Half Marathon, that was scheduled to take place on Sunday, has also been cancelled because of the poor weather. It would have been the 39th year for the event.
Norton-Merrin says most of the driving lines on major roads are cleared or wet at this time, but drivers will still need to watch out while on ramps or bridge decks as they are still quite icy.