Heavy snowfall in Edmonton area causes hundreds of collisions
Published Wednesday, November 7, 2012 10:07AM MST Last Updated Wednesday, November 7, 2012 7:00PM MST
Winter weather hit the Edmonton area in full force on Wednesday, prompting a snowfall warning and causing traffic delays, road closures and hundreds of collisions.
Environment Canada issued a snowfall warning for the Capital Region and areas north, west and east of Edmonton Wednesday morning, saying 10-15 centimetres of snow was expected throughout the day, and some areas will see up to 25 centimetres of snow.
The weather has caused a number of traffic delays and collisions.
Edmonton police said between 6 a.m. to 4 p.m Wednesday, officers responded to 213 collisions, with 12 of those involving minor injuries.
Police said most people were driving to conditions however they're reminding motorists to slow down, and if possible, stay home.
There were several reported road closures throughout the morning, however police said all roads had reopened by mid-afternoon. Traffic was moving, but slowly.
The city deployed 82 pieces of equipment onto roads to deal with the heavy snowfall, focusing on bridges, hills and slopes.
Crews are working "around the clock" on arterial roads and collector routes until the snowfall stops. Contract graders will be brought in overnight to augment plowing efforts on main roads throughout the city.
Crews will be working on plowing and sanding priority routes and intersections.
"We had the rain turning to snow which is something that we're not used to in Edmonton but it puts that nice, slick sheen on the road underneath the snow and then it is a fairly heavy, wet snow, accumulating very quickly," said Bob Dunford, director of roadway maintenance with the city.
"We are plowing and sanding on all the major roadways, all the arterials through the river valley. The goal during the course of the storm is of course to keep traffic moving. It isn't a thought of cleanup yet, it's keep the roads plowed so people can keep moving."
Dunford says a parking ban will likely not be put in place Thursday morning, but the city is considering putting one into effect for Friday.
Stony Plain / Spruce Grove RCMP had partially closed Highway 16 at Range Road 30 west of Stony Plain for a brief time Wednesday afternoon after a semi truck and trailer jack knifed across the westbound lanes. It has since reopened however highway conditions were listed as poor.
Highway 216 northbound between Baseline Road and Highway 16 was also closed at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday due to a collision involving a semi tractor trailer. The highway was expected to be closed until approximately 6 p.m.
Another collision involving a car and a tanker truck on Secondary Highway 830 north of Highway 15 forced a road closure just before 6 p.m. The highway was closed north and southbound and was expected to be closed for two hours as crews worked to remove the vehicles blocking the highway.
There was also a fatal highway collision on Highway 21 near Township Road 510 Wednesday morning, a collision RCMP said was a result of bad weather conditions.
Strathcona County RCMP are warning motorists to be careful as driving conditions are "extremely poor" and "travel is not recommended."
Edmontonians taking city transit were advised of delays of up to two and a half hours.
Edmonton Public Schools announced their afternoon bus service would likely be delayed due to the weather as well. Parents and students can find the latest information on bus delays here.
The weather also forced Parkland School Division #70 to cancel bus service Thursday for students to Evergreen Catholic, Devon Christian, St. Mathew's, Living Waters, Black Gold School Division, and Wild Rose School Division whose residents reside in Parkland County, Spruce Grove, Stony Plain and Devon.
Schools were expected to remain open, however parents and students were advised to check to make sure beforehand.
Meanwhile the snow has forced the City of St. Albert to suspend its local transit service for most of the day “due to unsafe and impassible road conditions.”
“A lot of our roads are completely impassable,” said Will Steblyk with St. Albert Transit.
“Buses are getting suck and for the protection of our passengers, other motorists and the protection of the equipment itself, we’ve had to suspend service.”
By about 4 p.m., a modified service had resumed, however some neighbourhood routes were still inaccessible and significant delays were expected.
Commuter routes continued to operate but were also significantly delayed.
“We have been hit hard,” said St. Albert RCMP Cst. Laurel Kading.
“We are really recommending if you don’t need to be on the roads, don’t go on them.”
The City of St. Albert has also called in private contractors to assist in snow-clearing efforts. All available equipment is being used to plow and sand priority roadways including St. Albert Trail and Ray Gibbon Drive.
Strathcona County also reported commuter bus service being severely risrupted due to poor weather conditions.
The weather conditions also caused some class cancellations.
Concordia and NorQuest College cancelled their classes on Wednesday due to the weather. An alumni event was also cancelled at NorQuest. Some classes were also cancelled at NAIT.
EPCOR warned that power outages may occur due to heavy, wet snow falling on power lines. Vehicles sliding into power equipment may also cause power outages.
CTV Edmonton’s Chief Meteorologist Josh Classen says wind will be northeast at 20 km/h Wednesday morning and north at 30 km/h Wednesday afternoon.
Environment Canada says the snow is expected to taper off by Wednesday evening as the pressure system moves into Saskatchewan.
With files from Brenna Rose and Sonia Sunger